Every November, we pause and reflect on the sacrifices both veterans and active service members have made to protect their counties. Whether you observe Remembrance Day or Veterans Day, a great way to pay tribute to a veteran is to volunteer your time and help those in need. Let’s look at some of the challenges veterans have faced when coming home and some simple ways you can give back.
Challenges veterans can face
Returning home from active military duty can bring its fair share of challenges. Aside from debilitating physical injuries from combat, veterans can also face multiple mental health issues at once, making it difficult to function in everyday life.1 When physical and mental disabilities combine with a reversion back to civilian life, many veterans unfortunately also succumb to substance use disorders2. These issues and challenges can sometimes stick with veterans for years. So, this November, why not make a difference in a veteran’s life? It can go a long way.
Simple ways to give back to veterans
- Support charities for veterans
One of the most effective ways anyone can help veterans in their country is to donate to charities. The Poppy Campaign in Canada, the Army Families Federation in the UK or the Disabled American Veterans charity in the US, are some of many charitable options gladly accepting donations. Whether it’s a one-time or regular monthly donation, you can make a real difference in the lives of veterans and their families.
- Help veterans get hired
Adjusting back to civilian life can be a challenge for many veterans. One particular area they often struggle with is finding work outside of the military. Reasons for this can range from bias during screenings, less civilian work experience, underemployment and negative stereotypes.3 You can help by volunteering at organizations that help veterans find jobs. Hire Heroes USA and REFA the Forces Employment Charity are two examples of organizations that allow people and employers to help veterans find comfortable employment.
- Visit veterans in your community
You can show veterans support in your community by visiting them in care centers and other facilities. Veterans from past conflicts and wounded veterans stay in these facilities to receive the support they need while living independently. Look into veteran care facilities near you and learn about their visitation guidelines before you decide to visit. Certain counties like the US have helpful tools that make finding a facility near you easier. You can check your government’s website to learn more about their veteran affairs and if you can visit veterans at any government centers.
- Lend a hand or talk to a veteran
If you live in a neighborhood where a veteran lives, why not lend a hand if they are in need? Or simply stop by for a chat. Unfortunately, many veterans live with a mental or physical disability from their service and could use help with home repairs or other chores around the house. Check in with a local veteran and see if they need any help in their home or their yards; it’s a great way to show your appreciation for their service.
- Volunteer your pet at a service animal foundation
Animal-assisted therapy has been shown to help with reducing stress, anxiety and other mental and physical disabilities.4 One study has shown companion dogs help veterans suffering from PTSD by improving their mental wellness and helping them experience more joy. Another study showed that veterans who rode therapy horses experienced alleviated PTSD symptoms. Do you have a pet at home, like a dog or cat? Consider getting them certified as therapy animals through organizations like the American Kennel Club in the US, Therapy Dogs Nationwide in the UK and the Therapeutic Paws of Canada.
Foresters members can help Veterans
Our members have access to two benefits that help them make a difference in their communities. Foresters Care™ gives members a one-time grant of $200 to use for any need they see in their community. It’s easy to apply for with a short approval time, and you have the flexibility to choose how you give back. The deadline to apply for the Foresters Care is December 16th. Apply now and make a difference in your community with this small but powerful grant!
The Community Volunteer grant is about making a larger impact with up to $2,000 in funds for you to use. Both ember benefits help you organize or attend volunteer activities and feel empowered to support causes you care about. We’ve just opened up the new granting year for Community Volunteer grants this November! You’re just in time to start applying and giving back in 2023 with this amazing member benefit!
If you need a little inspiration to help a veteran this November, look to one of our Foresters members, Mike Kennedy. He used his Foresters Care grant to purchase guitar accessories to donate to Guitars4Vets, a non-profit organization that helps struggling veterans through music. Member benefits like the ones above can make all the difference in a veteran’s life, especially when paired with organizations that give back.