(RNN) - Companies and restaurants are rewarding military veterans who have risked their lives and fought for the United States with various deals on Veterans Day.
Be sure to call restaurants and retail stores ahead of time to make sure they will be offering free or discounted items as not all stores are participating, and to know what time to arrive to take advantage of the deals. SOME OF THESE DEALS ARE NOT BEING OFFERED IN SOUTH CAROLINA.
In order for veterans to enjoy these benefits, they will need to show proof of military service. Some companies may require a military ID card that reads active, reserve or retired.
A current leave and earnings statement, a driver's license with a veteran's designation, a photograph in uniform, a veteran's organization card, discharge paperwork or another form of identification also may be accepted. Some restaurants and companies may use the honor system.
Applebee's is one national chain that is offering a free signature "thank you meal" menu that will include steak, burgers, pasta, chicken, shrimp and salad all day. Veterans are only required to bring a valid form of identification or be in uniform.
Carrabba's at various locations will offer a free appetizer to go with meals.
Chili's has a special free Veterans Day menu for veterans with proof of military service.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store will have a complimentary double chocolate fudge Coca-Cola cake dessert and an opportunity for guests to purchase items that support the United Service Organizations.
Some Chick-fil-A restaurants are offering free meals to all veterans and those in active duty, and identification is required. However, operators in the Columbia area are not honoring this offer.
At participating Denny's locations will offer a free “build your own grand slam” from 5 a.m. to noon for all military personnel.
Other restaurants offering free food or drinks include Wingstop, Zoe's Kitchen, O'Charley's, Little Caesar's Pizza, The Olive Garden, T.G.I.Fridays, Texas Roadhouse, Starbucks, Shoney's, Ruby Tuesday's, Red Robin, Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants, Longhorn Steakhouse, Krispy Kreme, IHOP, Hooters, Golden Corral, Friendly's, Famous Dave's, Einstein Bros. Bagels and many others. For more details, call ahead.
Retail stores and theaters that are offering 10- to 50-percent discounts are Barnes and Noble, Bed Bath and Beyond, Brooks Brothers, Carmike Cinemas, J.C. Penney, Lowe's, Publix, Rack Room Shoes, Steve Madden, Tires Plus, World Market, Macy's, Target, Sears and more.
Veterans also can visit national parks in different locations for free. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens are offering 50-percent off single-day admission tickets. If the great outdoors isn't your thing, Westgate Resorts are offering service members a complimentary three-day, two-night vacation, or a 25 percent off discount. Call other resorts and amusement parks to see if they have specials.
Check for local celebrations in your area, most of which are free or discounted for veterans and serving military. Schools, communities and veterans' organizations will have key speakers, memorial services, musical selections, 10K marathons, concerts and parades.
Check online to find a list of more activities and travel deals offered on Veterans Day. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Veterans Alliance also have information on this holiday.
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