With Veterans Day approaching, it can be difficult to know how you can contribute and give back to our nation's veteran and wounded warriors. There are many charities focused on everything from veterans assistance to more targeted organizations focused solely on Special Forces soldiers. If you want to support veterans and servicemen and women this November (or any time during the year), here are a few good places to start.
Currently the Indy Blue Star Mothers are working on an extensive project to provide Hoosier veterans and active military an extensive library of resources designed for easy and quick access to the multitude of programs available through profit and non-profit organizations throughout our nation but more importantly available right here in the Hoosier state. We are aiming to have it available by end of November. In the meantime please review how you can get involved to show your appreciation to veterans year round.
Disabled American Veterans
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) offers a variety of services to disabled veterans and their families. With more than 1.2 million members, DAV has tremendous reach and provides invaluable service to wounded veterans. DAV provides its members (veterans and their families) help with disability assistance, their VA pensions, job programs and more. It receives no government funding, so donations and gifts are crucial to keep providing services to veterans. DAV offers many ways to give back to the men and women who defended our country.
Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded veterans all require a different recovery process. TheWounded Warrior Project (WWP) provides rehabilitation, activities and career counseling for our nation's wounded warriors and their families. You can support the Wounded Warrior Project in a number of ways: by hosting a Supporter Event, sending letters to an injured service member, giving a monthly gift, or making a donation in honor of a loved one. This holiday season, WWP encourages supporters to establish employee giving drives by creating Casual Fridays, departmental competitions or office parties to benefit WWP.
Don't Forget About a Soldier's Best Friend
Dogs are a big part of the lives of our soldiers and veterans. From military working dogs on the front lines to guide dogs providing safety and companionship for wounded veterans, military service dogs need love too. There are many programs to help provide for these brave dogs. Companies like Petco and natural pet food maker Natural Balance are offering special treats to raise money for a military service dog memorial. Working dogs have saved thousands of American lives and continue to impact the lives of thousands of veterans who have returned home.
Veterans definitely need a lot of assistance, but the USO provides a way to support active-duty troops. Though the USO does take cash donations to provide many services, there are better ways to support the troops during the holiday season. The holidays are a particularly tough time for many troops and their families. The USO offers USO Operation Phone Home, which delivers a $50 prepaid international calling card to troops, allowing them to make up to 140 calls home.
Operation Write Home
While active duty soldiers appreciate the huge amount of notes and letters they receive from citizens, many would prefer to be able to simply write home to their loved ones. Operation Write Home offers them that opportunity by sending blank, handmade greeting cards that service members can send back home, along with 20-30 letters of encouragement from citizens. OWH asks for supporters to donate money to help cover costs or to make their own card design to help brighten the correspondence of active military. Since 2007, nearly 2 million cards have been sent to soldiers overseas.
This organization says thank you to veterans, wounded warriors and their caregivers as well as active-duty personnel by sending care packages that include snacks, hygiene supplies and handmade items. You can also join its letter-writing campaign, expressing gratitude to veterans for their service.
Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation
Founded in 2002, the foundation provides college scholarships and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. You can participate in the #DropAndGiveMe10 Challenge by posting a video of yourself doing push-ups in honor of fallen patriots and donating some amount to the foundation for every successful push-up — and then challenge three others to do the same. Or you can contribute panels to a charity knitting/crocheting project to raise awareness of the foundation's mission.
Fisher House Foundation
Fisher House operates a network of homes at major military and VA medical centers nationwide where military and veterans’ families can stay for free while a loved one is receiving medical treatment. It also operates a Hero Miles program and a Hotels for Heroes program that accept donated frequent flier airline miles and hotel points to help veterans’ family members travel to their bedside and stay at a hotel for free.
Hire Heroes USA
Hire Heroes USA provides job training for veterans from other vets who have business experience. If you own a business, you can become an employment partner. Or you can volunteer to assist with mock interviews, fundraising, career counseling or outreach to veterans and their spouses.
Operation Homefront is a Texas-based nonprofit organization that offers a litany of special and very important food-assistance services for military families enduring difficult financial times. Sadly, many military families have to suffer from not only the long months during which a family-member is abroad, but also the difficult times that can endure when they return home and struggle to return to “normal” civilian life. Operation Homefront is a great organization that provides much needed help to struggling military families.
Homes For Our Troops
Homes For Our Troops builds specialty houses for wounded and disabled military veterans — completely free of charge. Homes For Our Troops specializes in provided for wounded troops who require special access to and throughout their homes, like wheelchair ramps and other necessities. I learned about Homes For Our Troops through one of its celebrity advocates, guitarist and singer Aaron Lewis of the popular rock band, Staind.