10 Ways You Can Help Veterans In Spirit Of Memorial Day
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Politics and Activism

10 Ways You Can Help Veterans In Spirit Of Memorial Day

This country is full of homeless, disabled, and mentally ill veterans, but you can help change this!

10 Ways You Can Help Veterans In Spirit Of Memorial Day
Vera Yu and David Li at Flickr

Veterans risk their lives for us and then come back to this country without a job, homeless and, sometimes, even with mental illnesses and physical disabilities. It is especially concerning to learn about this when one realizes that 54% of federal spending goes into our military! It is terribly sad and disappointing, but the good news is that you and I can help them out! Here is a list of a few ways you can aid our nation's heroes:

1. Volunteer with the Stand Down Program

With these programs, you can help provide veterans in need by providing food, medical or dental care and personal hygiene services! If you would like to volunteer and help out, you can check out this time and location list from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans Stand Down Program.

2. Take part in a community-based group

You can join or start a community group where you can donate necessities or can help with services. These groups can help vets transition from a state of homelessness to a state of independence and permanent housing.

3. Help local government officials with government-run veteran services

Call your local government officials and ask what veteran service programs are up and running n your neck of the woods. You never know what those in need could use help with. You could volunteer to serve meals or could help them send out mail if they are homeless. Maybe you could even organize events yourself on behalf of your local government!

4. Ask local businesses to reach out to unemployed veterans

Ask local businesses if they have a special emphasis on hiring people who put their lives on the line for us or are willing to put one in place. There are some business who already do this and you could create the necessary change for this to happen in your town or city!

5. Drive a disabled or homeless veteran

Many veterans have suffered through and endured tragedies that cause them to need psychiatric treatment for the rest of their life. You can help by providing them with a free ride that will get them to the services they need.

You can volunteer to be a driver yourself or you can donate to Drive A Van today with just a few clicks of a button. You spend just as much time scrolling through your instagram feed, so you might as well put that time to good use!

6. Send them a care package or a letter

You can send mail to current military members and veterans through organizations like Operation Gratitude. By doing this, you could absolutely make the day of a current or past military member.

A letter telling them "Thank you for your service" or sending them some cookies or cash could go a long way! You can also volunteer at an Operation Gratitude drive or help provide items on their wish list to help as well.

This service is always appreciated but getting some friends together and doing this during annual festivities might bring them a little holiday cheer.

7. Sponsor companion puppies for veterans with PTSD

To help veterans cope with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) you could donate to Puppies Behind Bars and provide them with a companion pup. You would even get updates on the dog's training and its life alongside the veteran it accompanies.

Puppies Behind Bars is in service thanks to prison inmates who help raise and train the dogs. The puppies eventually become companions for a loving veteran and prisoners learn how to contribute rather than detract from society.

Clearly, this program contributes to society in a variety of ways; think of what your pet has done for you and imagine what a puppy could do in the lives of those who have experienced extreme trauma.

8. Aid in building a house for a veteran

You don't need a degree in architecture to help veterans in need of housing! You can donate to Building Homes for Heroes which builds and repairs homes for veterans; this structure is gifted to them mortgage free!

Their site states that,

"The organization strives to keep fundraising and administrative costs at a minimum, thus only a small percentage of funds are allocated to overhead costs... [in 2015] the organization had a program service percentage of 93.8%. The organization gifted 17 homes in 2013, 23 homes in 2014, 28 in 2015, 29 in 2016, and has the high hopes of gifting as many as 33 homes in 2017, equal to one home every 11 days."

9. Provide a homeless veteran with the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans

If you provide them with the number to this call center, veterans in need could learn about homeless programs and healthcare services available to them.

Veterans or those who wish to connect veterans to VA services can dial 1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838); they can do so 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

10. Say thank you

Whenever you see a veteran or an individual in a military uniform, just tell them, "Thank you for your service." What? Are you embarrassed that they might look at you weirdly? Those few seconds of courage could brighten the day of an individual who put their life on the line for your own.

It is likely they will appreciate your gratitude and, if they don't, then at least you tried. It doesn't change the course of your life, so why not try it? Just take a deep breath and do it. You never know how much this could mean to them.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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