Simple Ways You Can Help Local Veterans and Wounded Warriors
Most of us never serve in the military, but we owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to those who do. Wars have changed but many of the physical and mental issues that veterans face today are no different from those they’ve experienced during countless other wars. Veterans from every war have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, severe head injuries and loss of limbs. According to Gerald Kochan, founder of the Center for Military Studies, there many ways you can help the Wounded Warriors and other organizations that provide assistance. Here’s how:
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) is an advocacy group that provides assistance and support services to veterans. DAV is the longest running veteran advocacy group and was instrumental in providing benefits to over 340,000 members in 2014. DAV has a wide range of volunteer opportunities available where you can help the veterans in your community. People of any level of experience are invited to participant in one of the following activities:
- Volunteer at the local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Activities might include escorting patients, engaging in recreational programs or ward activities, serving coffee or simply visiting with patients.
- The Local Veterans Assistance Program matches volunteers with veterans who need help running errands, grocery shopping, doing yard work or home maintenance.
- DAV Transportation Network is a service that provides rides from a veteran’s home to the nearest VA hospital or clinic. Volunteer drivers are always needed.
The Wounded Warriors Project (WWP) is a resource for injured veterans and their families. It provides rehabilitation services, career counseling and enrichment activities. You can help by running fundraising drives, giving a monthly gift, hosting a Supporter Event, writing to an injured vet or by making monetary donations.
Home for Our Troops is the Habitat for Humanity for our nation’s veterans. Its mission is to build new homes or adapt existing homes to accommodate the needs of the injured. Volunteers of all skill levels participate in the home building or renovation process.
Operation Stand Down is a two- to three-day program designed to give homeless veterans a place to get quality health care, food, job and housing referrals, clothing, VA benefits counseling and personal hygiene services. Volunteers provide support for each event. Contact your local VA hospital for information.
The USO supports active duty troops. One of the best ways to help active services members is by donating to the USO Operation Phone Home program. The program delivers prepaid international calling cards to troops that allow them to call home up to 140 times.
Operation Gratitude sends care packages to active troops and veterans, caregivers and wounded warriors. The group also has a letter writing campaign that encourages volunteers to write handwritten letters of thanks to veterans.
The Fisher House Foundation provides homes near VA hospitals to families of hospitalized loved ones. Volunteers help maintain homes and provide assistance to the families. Donations of household items are welcome. If you have frequent flier miles, you can donate them to the families of hospital patients so they can fly free to be near their loved ones.