With Veterans Day approaching, it can be difficult to know how you can contribute and give back to our nation's 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.
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. The Wounded 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.
Homes for Our Troops
Not everyone can give a monetary donation, so there are a number of charities that need volunteer assistance in addition to financial help. Homes for Our Troops uses volunteers to build homes or adapt existing homes to meet the needs of injured veterans. While the group does use grant money from the Veterans Administration, that often does not cover the cost of construction.
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.
For more on military family and veteran support services, visit the Military.com Family Center.
Rainier Fuclan is a recent college graduate and blogger. He enjoys Veterans Day because it's a day to fully give notice and respect to the people that put their lives on the line in order for us to live happy lives.