How to Help Veterans

Two Methods:Helping Local VeteransHelping Veterans Elsewhere

It's important to let men and women who have served in the military know that their sacrifice is appreciated. If you're interested in helping veterans, there are a variety of ways to do so both locally and nationally.

Part 1
Helping Local Veterans

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    Thank a veteran. When you meet with a veteran you know or meet a veteran for the first time, offer a heartfelt word of thanks. Doing so may not provide physical assistance, but this simple show of support can help many veterans in an emotional and social way.[1]
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    Offer emotional support. For veterans you know personally—as either friends or family—stand by them as they deal with the emotional aftermath of serving in the military. Many veterans who served in active duty during wartime suffer from some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). You alone may not be able to give them all the support they need, but you may still be able to help.
    • Understand that each veteran has different needs both physically and emotionally. Those dealing with PTSD might be especially difficult to understand for anyone who has never been through a similar experience.
    • Be patient. Veterans with PTSD often have difficulty trusting others and handling stress. Some even feel a sense of shame or guilt. Do not push them to confide in you, but reassure them that you care and are there to support them in whatever way you can. Also reassure them that the symptoms they experience are common.[2]
    • If you're religious, you can also consider setting up a fellowship or Bible study program through your church that can reach out to veterans in need of spiritual support.
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    Provide transportation. Wounded and disabled veterans may have limited mobility or could otherwise be prevented from driving around on their own. If you know of any disabled veterans in your area, consider offering them a ride when they need to get someplace. If you do not know any veterans personally but still wish to volunteer in this manner, there are organizations you can work through that will match you up with local veterans in need of assistance.
    • One notable transportation service opportunity is with the Disabled American Veterans organization. This organization provides transportation to disabled veterans who need rides to local VA hospitals. You can submit your information and become a volunteer online:
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    Run errands. In some cases, wounded, disabled, or elderly veterans may no longer have the strength or energy to run their own errands, even if you can provide them with transportation. For these individuals, you can support them by doing their grocery shopping, mowing their lawn, or taking care of other similar chores.
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    Put them into contact with the right people. You may already know or eventually meet a veteran who needs help that you're unable to provide. Inform yourself about organizations and services dedicated to helping veterans. Once you know what a veteran needs help with, you can then direct him or her to people who can be of assistance.
    • If you know of a veteran who is homeless or at risk of becoming hopeless, call the VA at 877-4AID-VET, or 877-424-3838, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    • For veterans suffering with PTSD, consider directing them to the VA's online PTSD coach:
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    Share someone's story. Making a veteran feel appreciated can provide a dose of emotional support. Let the veterans in your life know how grateful you are by proudly sharing their stories with others you know. As long as that individual doesn't mind the attention, there are also public sources that accept and print veterans' stories.
    • Learn about the Veterans History Project, an endeavor taken up by the Library of Congress that allows war-time veterans to share their stories:
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    Volunteer at a medical facility. If you do not know any veterans personally and simply want a way to help those in your community, veterans' medical centers are almost always in need of volunteer support.
    • The easiest way to do this is to go through the Disabled Americans Veterans. Through them, you can locate local Veterans Affairs hospitals[3] and local Hospital Service Coordinators.[4]
    • There are a range of volunteer opportunities open at medical centers. Depending on your skill set, you may work directly with patients, participate in recreational programs, or assist the staff.[5]
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    Donate your time with local organizations. In addition to medical facilities, there are an abundance of other organizations dedicated to helping veterans in some way. Many of these organizations are service-oriented and will give you the opportunity to perform a beneficial service to local veterans in your community.
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    Hire a veteran. If you own a business, consider going out of your way to hire a veteran. Veterans who recently got out of the service often have difficulty finding work. You can place a job ad specifically calling for interested veterans to apply.
    • The simplest way to do this is to place a local job ad in the newspaper or a similar directory. Some local radio and TV stations also have special directories specifically for veterans-wanted job ads.
    • You could also contact organizations that are dedicated to helping veterans get employment once they return to civilian life. You can learn more about one of these organizations, U.S.VETS, online:

Part 2
Helping Veterans Elsewhere

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    Donate money help veterans and their families. The vast majority of service-oriented organizations will allow you to donate money if you cannot donate your time to a veterans' cause or do not live close enough to do so. There are also veterans organizations that are not service-oriented that you donate money to.
    • One well-known organization you can make a donation to is the Wounded Warrior Project. Their focus is on assisting injured service members and veterans. You can help by making a one-time or monthly donation. Find out more at their website:
    • U.S.VETS is an organization that puts veterans in touch with programs and resources they need to adjust to civilian life after serving. You can make a one-time donation or set up a planned giving account. Learn more at their website:
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    Consider an unconventional donation. Money is not the only thing you can donate if you want to help a veteran. Many veterans are in need of items that can assist them in their everyday lives. There are organizations you can contact that will allow you to make item donations, and these organizations will then find a veteran who really needs it.
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    Purchase products that serve veterans. Certain products and companies donate a portion of their profits to veterans' causes. When making a purchase, consider buying through a brand committed to serving veterans as a way to indirectly offer support.
    • Puppies Behind Bars is a program that matches service dogs with veterans suffering from PTSD. The program has been known to sell holiday cards as a fundraiser, so keep an eye out during the holiday months and consider making a purchase.[7]
    • You can also support military working dogs in the same manner by purchasing pet food and treats from companies that donate money to assist the dogs after they retire.[8]
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    Start a fundraiser. If you do not have much money to donate or simply want to raise more money for a certain veterans' organization, you can do so by holding a fundraiser in your community or online. Make sure that people know the money earned will be donated. Doing so may make others who want to make a difference more likely to show up.
    • When working on a fundraiser, try to get involvement from local media to spread the word. Consider asking large corporations in your area to match a portion of the proceeds, as well, to further increase the amount of money you can raise.[9]
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    Send a letter or care package. If you know a veteran who lives far away, write a caring letter or send a small package in the mail. If you do not know a veteran personally, however, you can still write letters and send care packages to lonely veterans through various organizations.

Article Info

Categories: Careers in the Military