If you are patriotic, you should take time to honor the people who have risked their lives to keep us safe. Whether they are in active duty or not, simple gestures of gratitude can go a long way to show them just how much their sacrifice is appreciated. You do not have to wait for the national or internationally recognized days of honoring veterans to make a difference in the life of a soldier. Here are ten things you can do to today to help a veteran.
- Do not Ignore Them
Simply telling a veteran you come across on the streets ‘thank you for your service’ can put a smile on their face. If you meet one in a restaurant, you can pick up the tab for them or just greet them politely. Other things you can offer to do is to pay for their groceries at the store or even fill their car tank. When you understand what veterans go through to ensure we live in a free and safe country, these small gestures will fade in comparison.
- Volunteer at a Veteran Hospital
If you are a doctor, a nurse or have any skills that can be utilized in a hospital, volunteering in a veteran hospital is one of the best things you can do to express gratitude. When the soldiers get wounded on duty or fall sick, most end up in these health facilities where they need help to recover.
- Offer Companionship
Even if you do not have any required skills, offering companionship or helping with recreational programs can go a long way in making them feel better. Some of the soldiers end up in hospitals thousands of miles away from their loved ones, and when shown compassion, it soothes their ailing bodies and warms their hearts.
- Write a Letter
Maybe a heartwarming letter is all a particular veteran needs to know that their services were appreciated. If you love writing letters, you could dedicate your time to writing heartfelt letters. You can even post the letters online or forward them to organizations that reward veterans. If you have somebody in mind, you can deliver the letter personally and if you like, include some gifts such as candy. If it is a person you know well, you can personalize the letter and gifts to your liking.
- Offer to take them to the Hospital
Some veterans suffer from conditions that require them to visit the clinic now and then. Some even suffer from disabilities that make the transit to hospital painful or difficult. Offering to drive a sick veteran to hospital can go a long way in making them feel appreciated. If you want to know individuals who are in need of such help, contact your local veterans’ hospital.
- Volunteer to Train a Service Dog
Veterans who suffer disabilities or post-traumatic stress disorder usually require a companion or a service dog to help them cope with everyday life. Training service dogs is costly and requires a lot of time. If you have the skills, you can volunteer to train some. Other than your time, you can donate appropriate dog food, training equipment or money.
- Help Veterans with Job Training
After years in the battlefield, many veterans find it hard to fit into a normal society. Most do not have the social skills or even the connections to land a job. You can volunteer to train them on how to fit back into society, teach them communication skills, how to search for jobs, interview and resume writing skills. Some organizations dedicate their time to training and connecting these heroes with the right employers. You can volunteer to offer mock interviews or if you have any skills related to job searches, counsel them or hold beneficial workshops.
- Volunteer for a Stand Down
Every year, different states hold two to three-day events where they honor veterans and offer free medical care and rehabilitation to those who are on drug use as it happens to those who suffer from anxiety disorders. Also, housing solutions are offered to those who have no place to live. During such celebrations, you can offer any help you have such as buying foodstuff, clothes or take care of some of the medical needs presented. Even if you do not have much to offer, your presence at such events means a lot.
- Building Homes for Injured Veterans
Injuries make it hard for some veterans to live in ordinary homes. Most states have programs where they build safer and more accessible homes to injured or disabled heroes or modify their current ones. You can be part of this exercise by donating building materials or your time anytime such an activity is carried out. If you are a plumber, electrician or have any other skill that can be utilized during the exercise, contact the concerned parties and inquire when and how the task will be carried out.
- Give Them a Challenge Coin
If you have known the veteran for a while, it is only natural that you have inquired about their unit or where they served. A challenge coin is a special type of coin that is passed between members of the military as a token of appreciation of service. They have a rich history dating back to the Roman Empire where a soldier who had performed well in battle was given the coin in addition to their pay as a symbol of valor. A challenge coin bears the insignia of the organization they served in. Get to know this and get them one. It is one of the purest forms of appreciation to a soldier. You can learn more about them here.
Anyone can do something for our heroes no matter how insignificant it might seem. Many of them have sacrificed their lives for their countries. Others, although still alive, suffer from life transforming injuries, disabilities, and psychological disorders. It’s critical that we try to understand what they are going through and walk with them through their difficulties.