In the United States, there are more than 23 million veterans. These men and women have sacrificed so much for us, we will never be able to fully repay them for protecting us and keeping us safe. But there are ways we can show our support and thanks to them! These six simple ways can help make a difference in a veteran’s life:
1.) Sponsor or donate money to a dog that helps soldiers with PTSD
When soldiers come home from serving our country some are faced with another battle: PTSD. One in three returning troops are being diagnosed with PTSD/PTSD symptoms and Veterans from past wars are still coping with their PTSD. While it does not rid them from their PTSD, having a companion can help them cope with it. And what better companion is there than man’s best friend?
Paws for Veterans is a nonprofit organization that provides soldiers who suffer from PTSD or other injuries with trained medical service dogs. The soldiers are also provided with supplies, therapeutic group sessions and natural treatment alternatives. Each dog is rescued, rehabilitated and individually trained for their owner’s specific disability. Paws for Veterans extensive training of the furry companions prepare the dogs so they can aid in healing the Veteran’s body and mind as they manage their PTSD.
2.) Write to soldiers currently serving
Letter writing is a form of art that unfortunately seems to be dying. Writing a letter is a simple, but meaningful gesture that can brighten up the recipient’s day. Away from their family and friends, soldiers who are overseas may feel a sense of loneliness. Sending them handwritten letters can provide a sense of comfort as well as a quick distraction from what’s going on around them.
Operation Gratitude has a letter writing program that includes letters in care packages sent to soldiers. If you would like to learn how to get involved, click here!
3.) Mentor Military Children
More than two million United States children have been affected directly by a parent’s deployment (pub med). Growing up with a parent deployed, or constantly having to move can impact children in more ways than we imagine. Being a mentor to them can provide guidance and a positive influence in their lives. While you will not fill the void of a deployed parent or the loneliness of always having to start fresh when moving to a new place, you can be a support system for the child.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has a program specifically for mentoring military children. The mentors involved in Operation Bigs come from all walks of them. They can be active or retired military or civilian volunteers. If this is a program you would like to get involved in, make sure to check out the Operation Bigs page on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America website.
4.) Stand Down – National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Designed to help homeless veterans “combat” life on the streets
In 2014, there was a total of 49,933 homeless Veterans in the united states. The number of homeless veterans made up 8.6 percent of the total homeless population. When serving our country, soldiers drop everything to leave their homes and protect our country. Returning to civilian life can be a hard adjustment, since it was a life they put on hold to be in the military. Some Veterans have difficulty in finding a job or are struggling with a mental illness disorder, such as PTSD, that weights heavy on them.
There are many organizations across the country to help combat Veteran homelessness. Some of these wonderful non-profits or organizations include: Support Homeless Veterans, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and Volunteers of America. By giving a donation to these organizations, you can contribute to helping a Veteran get his or her boots back on the ground and have a fresh start.
5.) Providing transportation for Veterans
Taking time out of your day to drive a Veteran to a doctor’s appointment requires a little more effort than the other ways of giving back. However, this is a way that really gives back and helps Veterans. A popular organization that provides transportation for Veterans is Disabled American Veterans (DAV). DAV is a nonprofit charity that provides support for veterans of all generations and their families. They have helped more than one million veterans in positive, life-changing ways each year. With almost 1,300 chapters and 1.3 million members across the country, DAV provides more than 700,000 rides for veterans who have a medical appointment to attend.
6.) Free Resources
The constant changes within a military family can create certain struggles and difficulties for them. Whether it is the continuous relocating, or a single parent at home with the children while the spouse is deployed. Organizations such as Blue Star Families were started to help assist our military families and lessen a burden they might have.
Blue Star Families is an organization that provides free resources and services to military families to make their living more manageable. Started in 2009, Blue Star Families has reached over more than 1.5 million military families. Some ways that you can support military families through Blue Star Families is by donating goods, services or money.
The men and women who serve our country have taken care of us. Now it is our time to take care of them.