By Jane Lasky
Do you know a U.S. veteran? Perhaps you have an aunt or a brother or a neighbor who has served and contributed to our country. If so, why not make an effort to thank them in simple ways that may mean a great deal? Plenty of opportunities are already in place for this kind of recognition, but these aren’t the only routes to take in order to encourage the same kind of impact.
If you’re interested in helping out our veterans consider the following 10 options and remember, “Don’t ever think the little things you can do don’t matter—they matter.”
Hospital And Nursing Home Visits
Schedule a trip to the local hospital or nursing home on a regular basis to visit with wounded, disabled or elderly veterans. You can also sign up to volunteer at a VA Hospital in your area. Bring along something to do that will be fun and also help inspire a bond over a simple act, like playing cards or a game of Scrabble.
Leave The Driving To You
Create a carpool for veterans seeking work or already working in your community. Take turns with other drivers to pre-set locations at specific times, both in the morning and at the end of the day.
Make Letter Writing A Family Affair
Dust off the old stationery, pass around the special paper to every person in your clan and go to work. Write about something fun and fulfilling, talk about your pets or draw pictures of your siblings. Do whatever strikes your fancy, as long as you say or show something upbeat and be sure to thank the veteran with whom you are communicating.
Get Involved With Therapy Dogs
You can apply to put your pet into a program that helps veterans or volunteer for a program that pairs adoptable dogs with veterans suffering from PTSD, like Pets for Vets. Consider donating to Shelter to Soldier, which pairs trained dogs with post-9/11 combat soldiers. You can even ask to tag along when a therapy pup is making his or her rounds at the local hospital. Check with the dog’s owner to see if there is anything you can do to be part of this fruitful volunteer mission.
Send Care Packages
Get together with your neighbors to create care packages for veterans in need. Each family should be in charge of multiples of a specific item – fresh pairs of socks, bathroom kits, adult coloring books, no item is too small. Celebrate your hard work by sharing a pizza after all the boxes are packed and ready to be given away.
Help A Vet
Do you know of a veteran in your area who may need help with chores around the house? Offer to mow the lawn in the summer and shovel snow in the winter. Something as simple as picking up a vet’s weekly groceries while you’re at the store taking care of your own shopping list can be a huge help.
Hire A Vet
Organize a way in which unemployed veterans can learn about odd jobs available in your community. Local sites like Nextdoor can be a great tool to utilize for this kind of project. Does your grass need mowing once a week? Ask for help. Do you want someone to help you put up your blinds? Again, request this service. No job is too big or too small; all are opportunities.
Volunteer Your Skills
Are you a lawyer? Are you a financial analyst? Perhaps you work as a writer. Anyone armed with a specific skill set can help any number of veterans get tasks completed in a professional manner. Volunteering in this way is beyond valuable.
Organize A Community Event
Organize a get-together for all the veterans and citizens in your community. Put together a neighborhood yard sale, plan to meet at a place where you can sit and dine under the stars, or hold a pot luck dinner by using a sign-up sheet so food is abundant, varied and delicious.
Donate, Donate, Donate
There’s always the need for additional money in order to help veterans live a happy and fulfilling life. Dozens of organizations are viable subjects for this directive, including the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF), “A service that helps servicemen/women, vets and their families who are affected by PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury).”