“Freedom isn’t free” is a phrase that most of us are familiar with. It speaks volumes about the millions who served to protect our country’s freedom that we all enjoy today.
To open things up, here are some quick facts you may not be aware of regarding veterans. I personally was taken aback when I saw these staggering numbers.
- 5 states are home to more than 1 million veterans: California (2.1 million), Florida (1.7 million), Texas (1.7 million), New York (1 million), and Pennsylvania (1 million)
- In 2013 there were 41,942 living veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam era
- One third of the adult homeless population is comprised of veterans, and 70 percent of these suffer from substance abuse
- More than 9 million veterans are over the age of 65
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the leading cause of homelessness and unemployment among veterans
The purpose of this blog is to spread awareness about the needs of the brave men and women who sacrificed everything to to protect the values that this country holds near and dear, and to inform you of ways you can help those heroes.
Below is a list of helpful websites we found that highlight different ways you can lend support to veterans, whether that be through time or money, or both.
1.) U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
There are a wide variety services and links on the VA’s website to help you in figuring out what you can and/or want to give. Their website opens with this:
Over 140,000 volunteers gave more than 11 million hours in service to America’s veterans. It is impossible to calculate the amount of caring and sharing that these Veterans Affairs Volunteer Service (VAVS) volunteers provide to veteran patients. VAVS volunteers are a priceless asset to the Nation’s veterans and to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
From there, you can explore the multitude of options available to help our heroes out, like helping provide transportation services to vets.
2.) CNN’S guide to honoring vets
I loved this list as it was simple and to the point.
CNN took a look at some unique ways to get involved from sending a care package or letter, to taking escorting a veteran on a free flight to see the WWII Memorial in Washington, to helping them share their stories via The Veterans History Project.
This article shows that there are a ton of fun and interactive things you can to do help vets, beyond the obvious types of volunteer work.
The Disabled American Veterans, or DAV, is a charity chartered by the US Congress to help disabled military vets and their families with various needs. They offer professional services to help families claim their military benefits, as well as represent veterans’ needs before congress.
They have tons of volunteer programs that allow you to help out in your local community – whether it’s volunteering in your local hospital, nursing homes and clinics, to doing a simple act like running errands or doing grocery shopping for veterans in your community.
This website has a lot of ways for you to get involved on a local level to help out our heroes.
4.) The Wounded Warrior Project
I really like this organization, as they focus on these core elements:
- Economic Empowerment
They help wounded “warriors” heal in the above areas through various programs. With Mind, they help warriors recover from stress. For Body, they provide rehabilitative services to keep vets healthy with sports, health, and nutrition-based activities. For Economic Empowerment, they offer higher education programs for wounded vets, technology training, and employment assistance. For engagement, they help vets and their families voice their concerns in local and national issues.
In addition, they help not only the warriors themselves, but also the families of wounded vets who need support as caregivers as well. These are just a couple examples of the benefits these programs provide. They do much more, so be sure to check out their website to learn more.
They offer different ways to give back from becoming a Proud Supporter in your community and hosting your own fundraising campaign, to spreading the word through social media, or you can even complete the Tough Mudder obstacle course challenge that supports the Wounded Warrior Project.
Aging Veterans Need Your Help Too
As someone who specializes in home health services, I feel the need to mention that there a ton of aging vets in the US that may need your help as well. One of the greatest gifts of all that you can give an aging loved one, whether that loved one is a veteran or not, is maintaining their independence and the lifestyle that they’ve grown accustomed to.
It too is a gift of freedom in a sense, the freedom to live independently, and the freedom that comes with having peace of mind knowing they are safe and secure in their home. You can offer this kind of help through in-home medical alert services, as well as through other home safety devices and modifications (like installing grab bars).
Since these needs are so high, Bay Alarm Medical is sponsoring Purple Heart Homes. Purple Heart Homes is a wonderful organization that does just that – provide high quality home solutions for service connected disabled vets, so they may enjoy continuing living in their beloved home, free of mobility barriers and challenges.
Volunteering Is Good For The Soul
One of the wonderful things about volunteering is not just that you get to help others, but the feeling you get back after giving of yourself to a cause such as the ones I listed above.
To illustrate, here’s a quick personal story. Back in college we were obligated to spend a Saturday working with special needs children. Because I was younger and more selfish with my time, it wasn’t something I was looking forward to.
From the moment I walked through the door and saw the children’s faces light up, to the moment I left that afternoon, my viewpoint on giving back had entirely shifted. I don’t know who enjoyed the experience more, me or the kids. It was an extremely valuable life lesson for me, as I’m sure helping vets in need would be for you.
In sum, there are many veterans who need and appreciate your help. You’ll see more blogs to come in the coming weeks and months regarding veterans and ways to get involved. I encourage you to explore the options I listed above and take action.