Free coffee, lunch and a movie among slew of American Veterans Day freebies

Arizona Air National Guard Lt. Col. Greg Grattop, 161st Air Refueling Wing, Phoenix Sky Harbor and Operation Enduring Freedom veteran who has served in Afghanistan, and his wife, Suzanne Grattop, drink their free coffee, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 at a Starbucks in Chandler, Ariz. Starbucks is giving away free coffee to military veterans and their spouses on Veteran's Day.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Matt York

SAN DIEGO - Veterans Day is not only a time to honour those who have served in the military: For American businesses, it's also a time to back up that appreciation with a freebie.

A slew of locally owned businesses and national chains are offering up something free Tuesday to anyone who has served in the military — a trend that has been growing since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Veterans can start off their day chowing down on a free breakfast at a number of restaurants, including IHOP, which is serving up red, white and blue pancakes.

They can then walk off the calories in a national park, which is offering free admission to everyone — and get their energy back with a free 12-ounce cup of Starbucks brewed coffee for current and former military members and their spouses.

Veterans can get a free haircut at Great Clips or a card to redeem one by Dec. 31 and then grab lunch or dinner without spending a dime at Applebee's, California Pizza Kitchen or Chili's, among others.

And that's only scratching the surface: There are free appetizers, beer, non-alcoholic drinks, car washes and even admission at select theatres to see the World War II film "Fury," starring Brad Pitt.

"I've been inundated from businesses and restaurants all offering something free tomorrow; it's kind of overkill," said retired Navy Cmdr. David Glazier, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "There's only one of me, and I can only eat one lunch."

Arizona Air National Guard Lt. Col. Greg Grattop exits a Starbucks with his free coffee, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Chandler, Ariz.
Arizona Air National Guard Lt. Col. Greg Grattop exits a Starbucks with his free coffee, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Chandler, Ariz.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Matt York

While veterans appreciate the deals, many, like Glazier, will miss out because they will be working.

"I hear a lot of veterans complain about that," he said. "The reality is Veterans Day is really only a holiday for banks and a few federal workers, so most veterans aren't able to get off work to enjoy those things that are offered only on Veterans Day."

Glazier plans to go to Knott's Berry Farm, the theme park south of Los Angeles, which is offering free tickets to present and former military members and one guest until the beginning of January.

Most veterans are well aware that companies are seizing the opportunity to give back as well as market themselves, but Glazier said that's not a bad thing.

"To me, the real perversion is Memorial Day, because Memorial Day has become a giant party day and sale day for American businesses, yet that is supposed to be the day we honour America's war dead," Glazier said. "Veterans at least are alive and here. So offering a free lunch to them or another sincerely good deal, I think it's a nice thing to do."

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