Service members and veterans will always be some of the most respected and beloved figures in America, but this doesn’t always translate into a better life. Reintegration into society is incredibly hard, and many struggle financially and in terms of mental well-being. If you are interested in making a difference for veterans, service members, and their families in your community, Semper Fi Design offers up a few ideas for some ways you can help.
Volunteering your time is one of the simplest and most effective ways to help veterans and service members. There are countless organizations you can volunteer with, so have a look around to see which specific causes you feel strongest about. DAV has plenty of nationwide volunteering opportunities, such as running errands, hospital volunteering, and driving a van for veteran transportation. You could also volunteer at a veteran’s home to help them clean, declutter, and organize their personal spaces, which can go a long way toward eliminating feelings of stress and anxiety. You could even offer to help stock their pantries or fridges with a supply of healthy foods.
If you don’t have the time to volunteer, your donations could still make a huge difference to military members and their families. However, not every military organization is doing equally good work, so do your research before deciding where to place your money. Clark has a list of the highest-rated charities, as well as the ones to avoid – that is, the ones that pocket most of their donations.
Simply having a conversation with a veteran or recently returned service member can make them feel welcome and accepted. Do watch what you say, however, since many well-intentioned people can make hurtful mistakes. Things not to say include asking them about unpleasant details or about their PTSD. If you want to ask about their experience, keep the tone positive and encourage them to talk about the aspects they enjoyed about the military.
Service members appreciate gifts from friends, family, and the wider community, and there are many things you can send that are particularly useful for them. Military.com recommends sending non-perishable food and drink, personal care items, reading material, and reminders of home. You should also check the regulations on the size of packages allowed.
When someone has a spouse in deployment, they are often effectively doing the work of a single parent. Offering to babysit for them can allow a military spouse to go out and have an afternoon or night to themselves, which they may not often have the opportunity to do. To be a good babysitter, make sure you are punctual, prepared, and well-informed on what to do in case of an emergency.
When military members are deployed, they often face the difficult decision of what to do with their beloved pets. Dogs On Deployment is an organization that connects these military members with people willing to foster their furry friends during their deployment. If you want to support the troops and also love dogs, this is the one for you.
As you can see, helping our veterans, service members, and military families is not difficult. No matter what your budget or time constraints, there is always a way for you to show your support. Remember that, even if you can’t do any of the above, you can always be a friendly face when they return home.