Alternate Perceptions Magazine, October 2021
Simple Ways to Help Veterans, Soldiers, and Families in Your Community
by: Rhonda Underhill
Veterans, active service members, and their families often deal with a wide array of struggles—from mental health issues to physical disabilities to poverty. What if there were simple, impactful ways that you could ease the burden of those in your community?
Fortunately, there are! Check out these ideas on how to help the veterans, soldiers, and families around you.
Learn about home loans.
Many veterans—ranging from seniors to recently discharged service members—have trouble navigating the home-buying process. Perhaps they don’t have the budget for a conventional loan. If that is the case, you can help the veteran apply for a VA loan, which is a government-backed loan specifically designed for both current and veteran military members. A VA loan requires no down payment or mortgage insurance. And most of the country’s leading mortgage providers lend VA mortgages every day.
Applying for a home loan can be overwhelming for any of us. To help ease the burden of a service member or veteran in your community, do some research to learn how to go about the process. Learn what documentation the lender will need, what kind of financial standing the veteran or service member will need to maintain, and any other factors necessary.
Offer to drive veterans.
Veterans, particularly seniors or those with a disability, often face obstacles when it comes to making it to essential medical appointments. With this in mind, the DAV created its Transportation Network. This program coordinates volunteers to get veterans to their appointments, no matter how far they live from the nearest VA hospital.
Another option is to offer veterans, service members, or their family members rides to other places in your area. This could mean driving them to the grocery store, pharmacy, or any other place they need to go.
Find impactful organizations.
There are many veteran-focused organizations in the United States that are worth donating your time and/or money to. For instance, Homes for Our Troops constructs homes that are accessible and adaptable for injured veterans. The organization uses donations to purchase labor and materials for home builds so that the veterans and their families don’t have to pay anything.
It’s no secret that there are a lot of homeless veterans in our country. One community event that addresses this problem is called “Stand Down,” which is organized in neighborhoods across the U.S. via a completely grassroots effort. Essentially, a Stand Down gives homeless veterans and their families warm meals, medical care, counseling, essential hygiene items, clothes, and many other necessities. These events are facilitated by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans through the framework it has created, which can be accessed by volunteers everywhere.
Other organizations to consider include Pets For Patriots, which provides animals from pet shelters to veterans struggling with PTSD, physical disabilities, and other health issues. And Cell Phones for Soldiers works to give veterans and families mobile phones at no cost. They distribute refurbished phones that have been donated, and all proceeds go to providing international calling cards to our troops and financial assistance to veterans.
Send care packages.
Sending care packages is another way you can help both active and inactive military members. Perhaps you’ve heard a moving story or two about an active-duty member overseas receiving a care package that includes toiletries, letters of thanks, snacks, and other items from their home country. But you can also send packages to veterans across the country through organizations like Operation Gratitude.
You can make a big difference in the lives of veterans, service members, and families in your community. Consider the ideas listed above, and keep looking into other ways that you can be a blessing to those in need. Not only will this benefit the individuals and families that you serve, but it will add an incredible amount of purpose and fulfillment to your own life!