In 2016, there were over 20 million veterans in the U.S. As this demographic continues to grow and evolve, it has become increasingly important to find impactful ways to support the veterans who fought for our country. Below are a few ways in which you can get involved to help the veterans who gave so much for us:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
More than a third of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have or will experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in their life as a result of their service. Coping with PTSD puts stress on the lives of veterans as well as the people around them. There are numerous programs and organizations, like Puppies Behind Bars, where you can sponsor a dog to be trained by prisoners to provide companionship for veterans living with PTSD. This type of therapy can be extremely beneficial for those experiencing emotional trauma and stress, giving them the gift of emotional and physical independence.
Donate Your Time
An easy way to support veterans is by offering and donating your time. There are dozens of organizations that assist veterans with a variety of activities, including Disabled American Veterans and Canine Companions for Independence.
If you have a knack for the written word, try writing a letter of gratitude to a veteran. Operation Gratitude is an organization that coordinates care packages, gifts, and letters of thanks to veterans. You can either work through the organization to send your letter of appreciation or volunteer your time to help put together care packages. Additionally, the organization mails sweet treats to currently-deployed troops.
Re-adjusting back to civilian life after their time serving can be difficult for many veterans. An organization called Hire Heroes helps veterans with their job interview skills, provides resume tips, and trains them to be able to achieve success after their military career. Hire Heroes also partners with various employers to host a job board. If you have the time, try volunteering with the organization to help veterans do mock interviews, career counseling, job searches and more.
The Veterans Association hosts Stand Downs, which are one to three day events that give much needed supplies and services to homeless veterans. These events provide everything from food to clothing and health screenings, as well as provide housing solutions, substance abuse treatment, and mental health counseling to those in need. To learn more about how you can make a difference, contact your state representative.
One of the greatest gifts you can give a veteran is the ability and platform to share their experiences and their story. The Library of Congress is actively collecting the tales of veterans from every war in their Veterans History Project. If you are related to a veteran or know someone who would like to share their story, be sure to visit the Library of Congress website to learn about how you can participate.