Why you should care?Vets risked their lives to make sure we live safely. It’s our time to creatively serve and support them!
By: Kate Houser, Erin Gentry, Sofia Monasterios
If you live in the United States, the odds are you know someone who has made the selfless decision to protect our country. This is the month to creatively support our friend, sister, grandparent, neighbor, child or spouse. We should really pause and consider the amazing gift veterans or Americans in service have given so that we can live safely in the US. Next time you see a person in uniform, introduce yourself, you may just learn something inspiring about these rare breeds who sacrificed their life for our country’s safety and protection.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs reported that roughly 11-20% of veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom suffer from PTSD. In addition, 12% from the Gulf War and a whopping 30% of veterans from the Vietnam war reported symptoms of PTSD? PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, develop because of the challenging experiences endured during combat.
“Veterans with trauma exposure and PTSD are more susceptible to sleep disorders, mood changes, reckless behavior, substance use and isolation which may impede a successful transition from military to civilian life”, reported The National Institute of Health. These symptoms can have ripple effects throughout multiple areas of a veterans life. It’s extremely important that we protect all of our veterans and make sure they feel supported, have a place to call home, a stable job, access to counseling and more.
It feels like a couple of days to recognize service seem inappropriate. We know, it’s hard not to highlight the many holidays and monthly themes that come along our way. Instead of doing just a “hand waving”, we think we should embrace them and really think about what we can creatively do to make small impacts. So, this July, starting with July Fourth Independence Day, we’re focused on ways to creatively support all the brave veterans or people in service.
To all veterans, we thank you, we love you, and we want to figure out how best to support you. Let’s collectively spend a few more moments this month and think about how we can creatively support our veterans by volunteering, donating, and yes, shopping! As usual, we started our list below. If you have more, please send them our way!
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Transportation Network : Get involved and show your support for local veterans by volunteering to drive for Disabled American Veterans. DAV connects community members to a transportation network that ensures continuity and adherence to treatment for vets needing a ride to appointments. Sign up to be a driver through the DAV Transportation Network and support the men and women who have risked their lives to protect our own!
If you are a mental health professional and have the ability to donate your time, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is a great place to offer your services. They provide all levels of support for military families who have lost a loved one.
Homes For Our Troops is a nonprofit organization that builds and adapts homes for returned service members who have been injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. Volunteers can sign up to attend a build event, sponsor an event, or fundraise to provide support and materials for housing projects. Contact the community outreach team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and local projects near you!
Operation Gratitude is a source for hands-on volunteer work that supports active military members, veterans, and first responders. Due to COVID-19, Operation Gratitude has developed a network for virtual volunteerism where participants can create home care packages, bracelets, letters, and postcards to send to deployed troops, national guardsmen, veterans, wounded heroes, first responders, and emergency medical personnel. Click to find out how you can give back from home.
Modern Military Association of America: Largest non-profit organization completely dedicated to ensuring and advancing the fairness and equality of LGBTQ military members and veterans. This organization provides legal services for LGBTQ military and veterans, scholarships for military spouses to continue their education, resources for HIV positive military members and veterans, and many more inspiring programs and services. Donate!
Black Veterans for Social Justice: This organization was founded in 1979 by WWII and Vietnam veterans in response to the racist policies and the lack of support for black veterans coming out of war. Their mission is to provide help in any way to ensure smooth transitions into civilian life for black veterans. Their Veterans Resource Center has programs that help homeless veterans, offer food pantry services and support the Veterans Action Group that help veterans in the New York City community. Donate!
DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Charitable Service Trust: This organization is a trust that offers grants to different projects and organizations looking to help veterans in different ways. The DAV “…awards grants to promote food, shelter, and other necessary items to homeless or at-risk veterans”. They also donate mobility items for veterans who have experienced vision loss, hearing loss, or amputations. They offer therapeutic or recreational activities for those with physical and/or psychological limitations. And, they provide education or training for veterans seeking career-readiness and skill development. Donate!
Sierra Club Military Outdoors: – Sierra Club is one of the most well known grassroots organizations supporting the environment through education, advocacy and activism. Military Outdoor is a program connecting veterans and their families with the environment through outdoor activities, while also, “…activating and empowering voices of veterans who are already skilled and inspired to defend America’s lands, water, wildlife, and people.” Former service members run this program and have shown that such activities help veterans’ transition back to civilian life.” Donate!
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) TAPS provides support for military families who have lost their loved ones. TAPS offers assistance and comfort services through grief counseling, a national peer support network, and connections to resources as well as 24/7 toll-free support over the phone. Donations for TAPS benefit the spouses, children, parents, and loved ones mourning the loss of a fallen service member.
Other Awesome Orgs to Support:
New Man Revolution – Gold Giveback Medal
Veteran owned and operated men’s grooming products are made with all natural plant ingredients and give back to veteran and first responder organizations. We love this soap brand’s social good because they help support America’s Vet Dogs, an organization that provides service dogs to veterans, and National Fallen Firefighters foundation, who offers additional training programs for firefighters.
AMP Electrical Bicycles – Bronze Giveback Medal
Service Disabled Veterans are those that are disabled due to being in combat. This specific service disabled veteran’s owned small businesses make fantastic electric bikes which help keep more cars off of our roads and less carbon dioxide emitted in our air. What’s more, they are a 1% for the Planet member, and have committed to keeping our planet clean.
Live Love Pop – Gold Giveback Medal
Gotta LOVE healthy popcorn that POP and gives back. Each flavor funds a different charity. Lime Fresco supports children’s cancer, Sea Salt funds hunger relief efforts and Salt & Vinegar, which gives back to Veterans’ health programs!
If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of PTSD please contact https://www.ptsd.va.gov/ to learn about ways to either give or receive help today. You are not alone!
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