Since the birth of America, veterans have fought to serve and protect. Let us repay them with support. Many of us have crossed paths with someone who has served or is currently serving in the force. Whether it be the Air Force, Navy, U.S. Marines, Coast Guard, Army, or National Guard. Our retired heroes should get the care and reassurance that they rightfully and completely deserve. That starts with healthcare, both physical and mental. We want to help provide them with the comfort they may need.
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What you can do
Some simple but effective ways that you can help our veterans are by donating and supporting our homeless veterans. A good majority of our heroes that served have been homeless at least once in their life. Roughly about thirty-seven thousand veterans were homeless in January of 2018. A way that we can give back to them is through care packages.
Providing care packages for our homeless veterans is one of the most impactful ways to help. An item that has been requested the most is socks. You could also add a refillable water bottle to keep them hydrated. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer because, sadly, showers are hard to find when you don’t have a roof over your head. Adding some simple things such as a first aid kit, deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste would be essential. Throw in a few snacks and a couple of bucks, and you’ve got it! Giving them a care package will show them how much you really care about their upkeep and wellbeing.
Volunteering is another excellent way to give back to our vets. Many different organizations donate all proceeds to those in need. Some examples of these are the Wounded Warrior Project and Operation Second Chance. You may even have a local organization that you favor to support. Volunteering at a food drive for homeless veterans and individuals is also an option.
Offer them a discount
If you are a business owner or operator, you can show your support to veterans by offering a discount to them. It could be a discount on a meal or even certain items you may sell. Every little act of kindness is taken to heart.
Send a personal message
There are even some programs that allow you to say thank you directly! You can look into sending a personal message to a veteran. Many vets are waiting to hear from their loved ones but do not have the option to.
You can let them know that they are loved and appreciated by sending a simple card or letter. You should tell them that you are so thankful for their courage and sacrifice. They will genuinely appreciate a letter from anyone, it does not matter if you are an adult or child, they will love it and probably keep it forever. Back a few years, there were programs that allowed students to write to veterans. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we brought that back?
If you wanted to be even more generous, you could make a donation. It does not have to be money. You could donate clothes, food, household items, cleaning supplies, and even used furniture. Donating does not always have to be something new. An item that is just lying around collecting dust may be used in a new home for a veteran in need.
It is often found that those who have served have a harder time transitioning back to their day-to-day life after service. This is especially true for those who have been in combat. Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a disorder that occurs after an individual has witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. PTSD can result in flashbacks and defensive attacks. Post-traumatic stress disorder can last for years, causing great pain or anguish in those who suffer from it.
PTSD is very common in people aged from forty to sixty years old but can occur in anyone. There are more than three million cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and other disorders alike diagnosed each year. Things that may trigger a PTSD episode are loud noises, certain words, smells, and even tight spaces. If an individual with PTSD has a trigger set off, it can result in an immense release. It could be an emotional outburst or even a physically violent one. When someone is in distress, it can be nearly impossible for them to understand reality.
For example, if a person experiencing a PTSD attack has a flashback, there is a good chance they believe that they are reliving that moment. In their mind, they are; it is real to them. The person having the attack may appear angry, upset, or even frightened. It is important to try and reassure them that you mean no harm and that you understand.
Finding a therapist for a veteran you know may be a big help as well. Regardless of if they could do it by themselves, it would be very thoughtful of you to present a list of options to narrow it down. There may even be mental health providers that work personally with retired veterans and service coordinators.
A term that you may or may not recognize is reactive abuse. Reactive abuse is fairly common in veterans and individuals struggling with mental disorders. If you know someone experiencing reactive abuse, domestic abuse, or any abuse, get them to help immediately. They could put themselves or others at risk of harm. These numbers provided below may be of help.
National Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
Abuse Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
Emergency Mental Health Hotline: 1-800-662-4357
Getting someone you know out of a situation like this is extremely crucial. Their mental and physical health could be at stake. Veterans and individuals alike should be able to contact their state social services for further assistance. As veterans, they may qualify for particular benefits such as home loans, rental assistance, and other financial support. Also, check out VA loans for help.
The Veteran’s Administration is an organization that helps disabled veterans find the physical and psychiatric care that they need. Often the VA will send veterans that have been hurt on the job to their hospital. They also may be able to assist with prescription costs and medical expenses.
If a veteran is not injured when they come home, they will be able to receive a physical and mental exam to determine any underlying conditions from serving. For example, if a veteran comes back with seventy percent less hearing than they had before joining; they may be eligible for disability assistance with the Veteran’s Administration.
The Veteran’s Healthcare Administration has provided care for veterans for over sixty years. With over a thousand facilities spread out across the country and then some. Covering topics like bipolar, schizophrenic, anxiety, depression, suicide prevention, and so much more. They provide care and aid to all those such as LGBT+, women veterans, transitioning service members, military sexual trauma, and their family members or friends.
Keeping our veterans safe and happy is the least we can do to show our appreciation. They had helped us when we needed it the most. Now it is our turn to make sure that we have their backs. Giving them aid and mental health resources for veterans is the best way to start giving back. Let us say ‘thank you for all that they have accomplished and struggled with. Thank you for your service!