Supporting Veterans, Soldiers, and Their Families
Veterans and soldiers alike have risked their lives to keep Americans safe while their families have sacrificed during their absences. There are countless ways to repay veterans, soldiers, and their families for their service. Many programs need volunteers and monetary donations. Here are a few ideas from me at An Army Ranger at MIT about how to help.
It's well-known that veterans are hard workers. Helping a veteran start a business can be rewarding. Veterans are eligible to receive training, special loan offers, and networking information to connect entrepreneurs with investors. V-WISE, a program designed for veteran women, helps with business start-ups. In addition, the government sets aside contracting dollars annually for veterans and extends to military spouses the same small business programs and resources designed for veterans.
If you own a business or are responsible for hiring, bringing veterans onto your staff can be a boon for both parties. Military service teaches and demands several skills that are immediately transferable to the business world, including adaptability, trainability, and problem solving. Veterans can apply these skills to learning the nuances of any industry.
Those veterans who've been wounded may find it difficult to fully function in the average home. Advise veterans seeking a home that Homes for Our Troops builds houses for severely injured vets who have served in combat since September 11, 2001. These homes are constructed taking disabilities into consideration and are adapted to make life as easy as possible for residents. You can also help direct them to resources that offer down payment assistance for home ownership. These are most-frequently in the form of grants, loans, or tax-credits.
VA hospitals provide care that includes physical therapy, psychiatric treatment, and medication management. Unfortunately, due to not living in close proximity to a VA Hospital, many veterans don't receive much-needed treatment. Consider volunteering with The DAV Transportation Network to drive veterans to VA hospital appointments. The organization also accepts monetary, vehicle, and real estate donations.
Connecting With Family
Many soldiers may not have seen loved ones for years. You can help them connect by donating your airline miles through programs such as Hero Miles. This program provides round-trip airfare for a wounded soldier to attend certain events or for their loved ones to visit them at a medical center where they're receiving treatment.
You can support military families by adopting a family and helping them through deployment by running errands, taking care of home repairs, mowing their lawn, or simply providing a listening ear. If you're a business owner, show your support by hiring a military spouse or the working-age child of a military member. If you know a military family that owns a business, support them by spending your money at their establishment.
Donating your time or money to programs such as Feed Our Vets provides food for veterans and their families whose circumstances have led to a lack of food. Alternatively, prepare a care package for a veteran family, and include brochures about available services inside your food box.
Recognize a veteran's higher-education dreams by providing them with information about master's degree programs. Many veterans feel displaced and don't know where to turn to train for a new career. Online degree programs allow students to explore career options and work full-time while earning the degree that may lead to a rewarding career. From criminal justice to psychology to business, there's something for everyone.
There are many organizations where you can volunteer or make donations to help veterans, service members, and their families. It’s worthwhile to help give back to those that have served our country.
--> Special thanks to Julia Merrill, retired Nurse Practitioner with over 25 years of experience helping patients of all types, who made it her personal mission to assist veterans in every way she could. She created BefriendYourDoc.org to share tips she has developed to help patients be their own advocate in seeking medical care, dealing with insurance companies, and contributing to their own health and well-being. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org