November 11 marks Veterans Day in the United States. Veterans in the U.S. are often more vulnerable to the challenges facing many of us around the cost of living, accessing medical care, and developing the social relationships essential for mental and emotional well-being. Here are a few ways to get involved with showing veterans in your community they are valued and cared for.
1. Work With A Non-Profit To Provide Meals For Veterans
A shared meal can be a wonderful way to build community and safety, especially for veterans who experience homelessness. See if any of your local organizations work with veterans who could benefit from a meal and provide this act of kindness for their community. As an example, Random Acts supporter April recently worked through Random Acts to take a group of veterans experiencing homelessness out for a meal by working with her local nonprofit, Callaway Cares. Get inspired by reading more of her story here.
You can also contact your local Food Pantry to see if they work with any specialized veterans services or know of a local veteran experiencing food insecurity, something that affects 1 in 9 veterans and their families in the US.
2. Identify A Needs Gap
Sometimes, a specific item or need can make all the difference when transitioning from military to civilian life. If you have contact with a veteran in day-to-day life, ask if there’s an item or service that could impact them positively. For instance, when our supporter Kate noticed one of her students, Tom, was struggling with an old laptop, she was able to help contribute to his education by working with Random Acts to provide him with a new computer.
Helping returned service people access medical care by driving them to appointments, or even just to run essential errands, is another simple yet impactful way to contribute. Other charities, such as Disabled American Veterans, already specialize in identifying and facilitating these kinds of acts of service, so try offering your availability.
3. Connect And Collaborate
Look local to see if there are already nonprofits or organizations in your area to tap into or collaborate with. Local charities already doing work on the ground have access to resources and are aware of a need that perfectly matches your offer. When Madison was looking for a way to spread some holiday kindness, a chance conversation led to an ongoing collaboration with Nadine from Love a Michigan Vet, a local organization passionate about meeting the needs of local veterans and veteran services. Read about how Madison utilized her new connections to perform an act here.
Susan likewise contacted a local branch of a charity to ask how best she could help perform her Act of Kindness to benefit veterans in her community. Via Random Acts, she organized a catered meal to her nearest Fisher House to help support families who had traveled to support their veteran loved one during a hospital stay. Find out more details in her kindness story.
4. Everyday Well-being
Military veterans and returned service people are overly represented in statistics detailing poor and sometimes devastating mental health outcomes. The U.S. and many other countries provide resources to help, so take a moment to look up what might be available. Read insights from our own veteran, Bridget, into challenges facing veterans in daily life here to increase your awareness.
Participating in events like remembrance days is one way to show you see and support both veterans and current service personnel, but many veterans live with the invisible effects of their service time all year round. Looking for opportunities to be kind in every interaction has flow-on effects to others, and you never know how crucial any small kindness might be to making someone with hidden challenges, such as a veteran with PTSD, more capable of moving throughout their day or even better able to support others in turn. Look for organizations that focus on emotional well-being, such as K9s For Warriors, just one of several pairing shelter dogs and veterans, to facilitate a more independent and enriched life for each.