eBenefits.Va.Gov – As a veteran who is committed to helping other veterans, I am often asked what I do to help veterans, especially those in other countries. It really depends. With 21.6 million veterans in the U.S. alone, veterans have a wide variety of problems. However, it really doesn’t matter whether you are in the U.S. or in the country of one of our allies. Many of these problems are the same: homelessness, benefits issues health care, access to jobs and suicide.
Although these problems are complex and seem insurmountable, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make an effort to solve these problems. Even though we can’t help all veterans because some don’t want help, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make an effort to get involved and help those who are struggling.
The number of ways to help veterans is as numerous as veterans. However, these 10 ways that involve very little time, money or effort on your part and yet will reap huge benefits.
For some veterans, it is as simple as helping them feel better about themselves. Some have been told that they were fighting for oppressive governments and beliefs while others have been spit on or insulted because they were either drafted or chose to fight in what others considered unjust wars. Regardless of the reason, these veterans need to hear that their service mattered. Often sent off to war as teenagers, many didn’t serve or fight for a government or an idea. For them, it was about defending their countries and families. eBenefits.Va.Gov
Understand that it is true there have been oppressive regimes like the NAZI regime during World War II. Regimes like these though were aggressors. They were trying to dominate their neighbors. For the U.S. and her allies, which include the Australians, the British and the South Africans, it is more about defending homes and families or fighting terrorism.
Regardless of what country you are in, there are always volunteer opportunities available for you. The first place to start to find out about these opportunities, if you are outside the U.S., is the veterans organizations in your country. Many allied countries have a Legion you may contact to find out what is available. For those in the U.S., not only can you volunteer through organizations, but VA facilities also have an extensive network of opportunities available that are flexible and allow you to customize your volunteer opportunity.
It is easier now than ever to connect with other veterans all over the world with social sites like Facebook. Thousands of groups on every topic related to veterans are available. Sometimes veterans post their problems on these boards, making it easy to know who needs help so you can reach out to them privately and volunteer to listen. Others may not be able to come out and say exactly what the problem is. These require patience when you reach out to them. If you demonstrate your willingness to listen, some will come to you. Most just need to vent or want you to listen so be careful about giving advice, and don’t betray their confidences. eBenefits.Va.Gov
This seems to be the biggest complaint that veterans have, especially here in the U.S. VA staff, often civilians, have no frame of reference for what military service is like. Because of it, they often give advice that is either thoughtless or irrelevant to the situation. Many veterans, myself included, don’t often feel comfortable trying to talk to civilians about our experiences. Sometimes just knowing you share similar experiences is all it takes to connect.
5. Answer questions
If you are familiar with the veterans’ system in your country, especially if you know how to navigate the system, then your knowledge is invaluable to other veterans. Again, with social networks, you have the opportunity to connect with a large number of veterans. Since many of the same questions are often asked, then you may want to write the answers down. All it takes is basic writing skills, and you can share those answers easily.
6. Donate your knowledge
This is different from simply answering questions. If you have special skills, including business building, job hunting or resume writing, you may be able to help veterans in these areas. Connecting with the right groups on social networks makes it easy to donate your knowledge.
7. Buy veteran created products
There are millions of veterans owned businesses owned by writers, artists and others who produce an amazing array of goods as well as providing services like travel and web design. Often these businesses aren’t well marketed and so many are struggling. Ask around within the veterans community to find out what is available.
8. Join the right organizations
Some of the organizations within the veterans’ community are nothing more than feel good organizations. They don’t really do anything. Others, like the Legion, actually help veterans within their communities as well as do advocacy work. Many charity organizations are also available that offer everything from advocacy to mentoring and helping veterans find jobs and resources within their communities. Before choosing an organization to join, make sure you check to make sure the organization’s goals are in line with yours and that it actually provides the help it says it does.
9. Give money
Let’s face it. Not everyone has the time to help. Some don’t feel comfortable working with others. You can still help by giving money, no matter how little you give. Every little bit helps. Although money isn’t always the answer to veterans’ issues, sometimes it can be used to provide invaluable help. eBenefits.Va.Gov
10. Get involved
Even if you are doing one of the other things on this list, it’s still important to get involved in advocating the government to improve conditions for veterans. You may consider joining an organization like the Warfighter Rights Movement or other organizations involved in advocating for veterans.
Regardless of what you choose to do, there are plenty of ways to help veterans. Choose the opportunity that is right for you and get started. With 22 veterans a day committing suicide in the U.S. alone, veterans need you.