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10 Top Veterans Day Freebies for Service Members

Elliott Fabrizio, of The Pentagon Channel, offers 10 popular freebies for Veterans Day Weekend.

By MC1 Elliott Fabrizio, The Pentagon Channel

Free stuff is not the purpose of Veterans Day, but that doesn't mean you can't graciously accept some of the offers extended by private businesses to show their appreciation for those who have served in our nation’s armed forces.

This list can help you find the best deals to take advantage of this Veterans Day weekend.

Just to cover myself, this list in no way implies endorsement by The Pentagon Channel or the DoD, but is simply this Sailor’s personal recommendation for great deals.

10. Krispy KremeFree Doughnut and Small Coffee (Nov. 11)

This is not meant to be a ranking system. Krispy Kreme is number ten because you should go there first and start off your Veteran’s Day off with a delicious free doughnut and cup of coffee. The customer service representative I spoke with estimates that 99 percent of their chains will participate but also recommends calling ahead because Krispy Kreme is a franchise and some may not offer the deal.

(The nearest Krispy Kreme is in the city of Industry, 1548 Azusa Ave. or Ontario, 4485 Mills Circle.)

9. Outback SteakhouseFree Blooming Onions and Soda (Nov. 11 & 12)

Outback Steakhouse is opening their hearts to veterans with free blooming onions and soft drinks. Be sure to enjoy this deal in moderation or you may need the help of doctors to re-open your heart- kidding. This offer is good on that Sunday and Monday, and, according to their website, from November 13 to the end of the year, veterans enjoy 10 percent off their entire check. Outback is a strong military supporter and participates in Operation Feeding Freedom that has served more than 207 thousand deployed service members, according to outback.com.

(The closest locations are in Upland, 530 N. Mountain Ave.; Industry/Puente Hills, 1418 Azusa Ave.; and Brea, 30 Pointe Drive.)

7. and 8. Chili's and Applebee'sFree meal (Nov. 11)

I’m lumping Chili's and Applebee's together because their offers are identical. I have done the Applebee's Veterans Day meal and they basically have a special menu with seven meal options. You get one of them free. Drink and tip is not included. I'm not going to knock this deal, but when I go into an Applebee's I usually want their largest steak dinner with a side of ribs, and you won't find that on the special offer menu.

(The nearest Chili's are in La Verne, 1912 Foothill Blvd.; Diamond Bar, 707 Grand Ave.; Chino Hills, 3670 Grand Ave.; West Covina, 2929 E. Eastland Center Drive.)

(The nearest Applebee's are in Walnut, 21625 Valley Blvd; San Dimas, 674 West Arrow Ave.; Montclair, 9241 Monte Vista Ave.)

6. Denny'sFree all-you-can-eat pancakes (Nov. 12 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

Denny's is a name in possessive form like Chili's and Applebee's, but its deal is entirely different and entirely pancakes. I love pancakes, but here's where you'll run into trouble. All the pancakes you can eat sounds like it's going to be a lot before you go there, but when you're there it's probably going to be around one and a half. A Denny's press release states that the offer "can be enjoyed alone or as a tasty addition to any meal, offering a hearty start to the day for our nation's heroes." When you use this deal be prepared to order some eggs, bacon and coffee al la carte.

(The nearest Denny's are in Claremont, 820 South Indian Hill Blvd.; La Verne, 919 Foothill Blvd.; Pomona, 3012 W. Temple Ave. and 3801 W. Temple Ave.; Upland, 385 S. Mountain Ave.)

5. Sonic Car Wash: Free car wash (Nov. 11)

There are several listings of Veterans Day deals that cite a free wash at Sonic Car Wash. Are they referring the Sonic Car Wash in Utah, the Ultra Sonic Car Wash in New York, or the Soft Sonic Car Wash in Virginia? I don't know for sure. The Utah location definitely offers the free wash, according to their website. The Virginia location said no, and I couldn't get through to New York. Your best bet is to call whatever car wash is near you, whatever the name, and ask if they offer a Veterans Day deal. Best of luck, but my theory is that if you get your car cleaned for free this weekend, it probably rained.

4. SubwayFree six-inch sandwich (Nov. 11)

Who said there's no such thing as a free lunch? This deal is great because it's quick and easy to claim. Be sure to call ahead if possible because Subway is a franchise, and the owner of the Subway on or right off base may not be able to give out that many free sandwiches.

(The nearest Subway Sandwiches are in Claremont at 350 S. Indian Hill Blvd., Pepper Tree Square S C, 422 Auto Center Drive and 594 E Baseline Road; La Verne, 2145 Foothill Blvd. Suite B; Diamond Bar, 508 N Diamond Bar Blvd, Walnut, 1219 N. Grand Ave., and Industry, 21710 Valley Blvd.)

3. Olive GardenFree meal with breadsticks and choice of soup or salad (Nov. 11)

Now we're talking. Like most restaurants offering a free meal there is a special menu; however, at Olive Garden you also get soup or salad and bread sticks. I'm a big fan of soup, breadsticks and an all-around carb enthusiast. I recommend calling ahead just to be sure and make reservations if possible.

(The nearest Olive Garden is in Industry, 17585 Castleton St.; San Dimas, 582 N. Lone Hill Ave; Brea, 270 Brea Mall Way.)

2. TGI Friday's: Free Lunch (Nov. 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

This is a reminder to stay organized if you're going to take advantage of some Veterans Day offers. Show up at TGI Friday's for dinner and you'll look quite foolish, since they are offering a free lunch. It's going to be awkward. Keep your deals organized and you can visit Subway on Sunday and TGI Friday's on Monday for two days of free lunches.

(The nearest TGI Fridays are at Industry, 17427 Colima Road; Brea, 935 Birch St.; West Covina, 2625 East Eastland Center Drive.)

1. Golden CorralFree “thank you” dinner buffet (Nov. 12 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.)

According to goldencorral.com, all chains participate in this event, and it's a big one. I've witnessed this one from afar, and it's a crowded affair. You will wait, you will witness breaches of buffet etiquette and you will be compelled to donate. This free meal sets itself apart from the others by also raising money for the Disabled American Veterans organization. According to their website, "To date, Golden Corral restaurants have provided over 3.2 million free meals and contributed more than $6.1 million to the Disabled American Veterans organization." This is not a ranking, but raising money for disabled veterans gives Golden Corral a special place of honor on this list.

(The nearest Golden Corral's is in Industry, 17635 Castleton St.) 

These listed businesses accept various forms of identification including military ID cards, DD214 papers and, for some, even pictures of you in uniform. Save yourself some trouble and call ahead to ensure you have everything you need, the location is participating in the deal and to make reservations if possible.

Carl Taylor November 11, 2012 at 02:20 PM
We went to eat at Golden Corral last veterans day, not knowing about their deal. Got there, saw the line, then the sign. The line was at least 3/4 as long as the parking lot. Even though I am a Viet Nam vet, we passed on the wait that day. We do go to golden corral in Hannibal Mo. often. Very good food, and thank you Golden Corral for what you do for the Vets. Carl
nick November 12, 2012 at 12:57 AM
don't waste your time going to subway its a scam. i went to 4 different locationd and was turned away. all they did is embarrass me in front of other customers making me feel like a beggar. ill never go to any subway again !!
Mel Ham November 12, 2012 at 01:06 AM
I think it's well worth the wait. Honestly, it doesn't take that long to get in though. We must have only waited like 15 minutes. Line moved pretty fast :)
Severina Britto November 12, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Thank you Olive Garden for the courteous, caring staff & fabulous meal. Also to Little Ceasar's for the yummy crazy bread. We as veterans appreciate your kindness. God Bless America.
Severina Britto November 12, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Thanks Nick because I was about to put my shoes on & go up the street to Subway.
jay November 12, 2012 at 04:19 AM
we went to applebees in walnut. great food, great service, great chats with both vietnam and WW2 vets as a bonus. thanks for the tip on subway. the owner of the local stores is very tight fisted. he stopped sponsorship of local teams that were supported by the previous owner. am going to try olive garden tomorrow.
Melanie C. Johnson (Editor) November 12, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Thank you all for your service! Happy Veteran's Day!
Tom King November 12, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Yesterday, I was in a town in another part of the State with another soldier in uniform. A gentleman came up and paid for our meal. Last night, I met up with my family at a local restaurant. I had not changed out of my uniform. An anonymous person in the restaurant paid our bill and said "Thanks for serving our country!" on the bill. It was $65.00. We were stunned at the generosity and the recognition. Thank you!

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