How to Support and Honor America's Veterans

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On Veterans Day, America honors the brave women and men that have served in our military. The truth is that our veterans deserve a lot more than a day to acknowledge their service and sacrifice. There are major gaps in the support services offered to our veterans evidenced by these sobering facts. 

  • The unemployment rate of post-9/11 veterans (aka “Gulf War-era II veterans”) is 6.2%, nearly 30% higher than the national average of 4.4%.
  • Veterans make up 12% of the adult homeless population. There are more than half a million homeless people in the US and more than 60,000 of those men and women served in our nation's military. 
  • 70% of homeless veterans suffer from substance abuse, while 50% experience mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which makes it harder to maintain relationships and hold down a job.
  • Many homeless veterans end up living on the streets for 8 or 9 times the length of their deployments.
  • There are currently over 2 million female veterans in the United States.

How can you help? Here is a list of organizations and resources that provide valuable services and support to our veterans.

Build A Home
The Fischer House Foundation builds homes for family members on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. The program services more than 12,000 families.

Help Wounded Warriors
The Wounded Warrior Project aids soldiers wounded in battle with recovery and support, and increases awareness of these soldiers’ health. Ways to get involved are ample, and range from attending speakers to donating through your purchase of a ketchup bottle.

Help Vets Find A Job
Hire Heroes USA offers transition assistance, job search assistance and job placement services to military members and their spouses.

Support Female Vets
Help rebuild lives, in particular, those of female veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Volunteers of America builds homes for female vets, providing housing for single moms and other female vets who find it difficult to transition back into civilian life.

Support Research
Welcome Back Vets is the MLB Charities Initiative, helping vets make a successful transition to civilian life. It’s granted $12 million to nonprofit groups helping vets and their families, focusing on treatment and research of PTSB and TBI.

Provide Monetary Support
Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund supports the Armed Forces and their families by providing close to $120 million in support for families and severely wounded military members and veterans.

Spread A Sense Of Home
The USO provides touches of home with entertainment and various programs at airports, military bases and more. It also provides support to deployed troops, wounded warriors and families.

Send A Thank You
Send a personal thank you to a soldier still serving. Anysoldier.com provides opportunities to create and send care packages to those abroad.

Help Soldiers Call Home
Staying in touch with loved ones while abroad is key to survival, though the costs of calling home from Afghanistan or Iraq are incredibly high. Cell Phones For Soldiers is trying to change that. Each week the organization donates 12,000 calling cards to soldiers, providing enough money on each card for an hour of conversation.

Say Thank You, Your Way
United We Serve connects individuals with opportunities to say thank you to veterans. It makes it easy to volunteer in your community, or to start your own project.

Support Their Support Systems
More than just helping or thanking veterans, organizations like Blue Star Fam are helping the families of soldiers who have been deployed — installing programs such as Books on Bases, Smiles on Faces which donates books to soldiers’ families. Operation Appreciation, another program, sends personal thank you cards to military parents, spouses, children and veterans, honoring the sacrifices each member of the family makes.

Give A Sustainable Thank You
Whether its providing discounts on home improvement projects or taking vehicle donations, Veteran Green Jobs makes supporting veterans a sustainable initiative. Find out how you can get involved.

General Volunteer Opportunities
Not sure how to get involved? The Department of Veteran Affairs can help, setting up volunteer opportunities at Veteran Centers or connecting you to other non-profits in your area.

Sources: 

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-veterans

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/08/veterans-day-volunteering_n_1080452.html

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/05/us/iyw-simple-ways-to-honor-veterans/index.html

Emily Davis