The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that nearly 20 veterans commit suicide each day. They are a hurting people. These men and women have served us for years, giving their lives to a cause we often take for granted. Our very freedom can be directly attributed to their efforts. How are you thanking them today?
Here are some ways we can love our Veterans with our hands, our feet, our actions…
Veterans Need a Home
Many veterans come home with severe injuries that prohibit them from living comfortably in conventionally-built housing. Often they require specially modified homes to accommodate their disabilities. Building Homes for Heroes builds specially designed homes for veterans with disabilities to help them live independently. In addition to providing these homes to veterans at no cost, they also provide free financial planning services.
Veterans Need a Ride
Some veterans have been irreversibly injured - physically, mentally, emotionally - and need transportation to the VA facilities that provide healthcare. Disabled American Veterans offers free transportation to veterans who are unable to get to medical facilities on their own. Volunteer to drive a van for those who need a ride.
For veterans and service members injured during or after the September 11th tragedies, the Wounded Warriors Project offers rehabilitative, economic and relational support to assist these men and women in their recovery. WWP also offers access to valuable information on financial assistance programs and government benefits that are available to veterans and their families.
Veterans Need a Pet
The medical community supports the belief that owning a pet has therapeutic benefits to the ill and injured, including those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Over 30% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have or will experience PTSD. This statistic does not include veterans of past wars that remain silent sufferers with old demons. Puppies Behind Bars is an organization that that teaches prisoners to train companion dogs for veterans with PTSD. You can sponsor a dog and also keep up-to-date on the dog's training and life with his veteran.
Veterans Need to Know You Care
Everyone loves getting mail. And to those who often feel forgotten, it is especially significant to receive letters, cards, and gifts from those whom they have served. Organizations such as Operation Gratitude, Support our Troops, and Operation Shoebox have collectively sent millions of care packages to veterans and current military members.
Veterans Need to Be Honored
The Honor Flight Network honors WWII, Korean War or Vietnam veterans by offering free trips to the war memorials in the National Mall, located in Washington, DC. Volunteer to escort the veterans on their flights to the Mall. Help is especially needed to help terminally-ill veterans, who may need physical assistance.
Veterans Need to Tell Their Stories
The Library of Congress is has determined to collect stories of veterans of every war with the Veterans History Project. If you know a veteran who has a story to tell, give them a chance to do it. Help our veterans share their stories before it's too late. Visit their website for more information on how you can help.
Among the story-tellers, there will be those veterans who are suffering from PTSD. The VA offers the PTSD Coach Online. This resource help veterans learn to manage symptoms, teaches coping mechanisms, and provides support for those who seek professional help.
Veterans Need You to Give
If your life and schedule prohibit you from offering your time, perhaps you can contribute financially? All of the services listed are offered to veterans at no cost. But these organizations rely on financial contributions to continue offering their time, services and efforts. Visit any of these organizations and consider where your donation might best align with your hopes and prayers for these veterans.
As you go about your day - as you chat with your classmates and coworkers, as you share time with your family and friends, as you attend your churches, debate political madness, or pray for our leaders - remember that someone fought for your freedom to do so.
These men and women have served you in ways you could never fathom.
Thank a vet. Love a vet. Serve a vet.