If you want to show your appreciation for veterans, you’re guaranteed to find plenty of opportunities to do so. Countless people recognize the sacrifices that these Americans have made to protect their country, uphold the Constitution, and share the values of democracy throughout the world. Sadly, not everyone is proactive in searching for ways to serve this undeniably vulnerable community. Many veterans return home with serious emotional and physical injuries. Veterans often finish their time in service with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic anxiety, chronic depression, or other mental health issues. Veterans who have lost limbs, their sight, their hearing, or have sustained other debilitating injuries have an especially difficult time adjusting to civilian life. Volunteering opportunities with veteran’s organizations aren’t just a chance to show your gratitude. These efforts can also play a very significant role in improving the overall life qualities of those who’ve served in the military.
If you have a specialized skill, you always have the option of looking for volunteering opportunities that allow you to leverage your certifications and training to benefit those who might not otherwise have access to your services. Veteran’s organizations are frequently looking for skilled doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals who can take part in pop-up clinics or other veterans’ events that are designed to make specialized and high-priced services more accessible. Many veterans live on fixed incomes, and although they’re able to access a diverse range of services through the Office of Veterans Affairs (the VA), certain needs can fall through the cracks. Low-income veterans often need help in getting eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, and other forms of essential medical and oral health support. As veterans wait for their disability claims to be processed and approved, many live in poverty and lack important essentials. As such, veteran’s organizations both accept applications from willing volunteers and numerous forms of basic needs donations.
Getting Started With Volunteer Work for Veterans
Even if you aren’t a licensed doctor, dentist, or attorney, you definitely have skills to offer at a nearby veteran’s organization. For disabled veterans, volunteers can assist with a variety of basic, everyday needs including providing transport to and from medical appointments and shopping trips, assistance with filling out forms, and help in locating the right public resources. If you’ve got experience in filing taxes, writing budgets, career counseling, or resume writing, you can help veterans negotiate the often-difficult process of establishing personal sustainability post-service.
In some instances, companionship is what veterans need the most. This can come from you and other volunteers like you, or from service animals that have been trained. Taking a dog into your home and training him to patiently wait on veterans who are injured or who suffer from PTSD is a great way to improve the life quality of someone who’s served in the military. You can also assist with the care of service animals after they’ve already been placed. Adapting to civilian life following military service can be a tremendous challenge. This process is made all the more difficult when lasting mental, physical, or emotional injuries exist. Research consistently shows that therapy dogs and other service animals can have a tremendous impact on veterans’ overall well-being.
For veterans who have yet to be properly housed, there is a vast range of tasks that the average, everyday volunteer can do. From preparing and serving food in soup kitchens, to assisting with the clean-up and maintenance of short-term housing facilities, there are a number of opportunities currently available for both skilled and unskilled volunteers. Before choosing a volunteer position, you should take the time to:
- Learn more about the different opportunities that exist in your area
- Assess your comfort level with various positions
- Decide how much time and energy you wish to contribute
- Determine how you can best leverage your current skills and abilities to assist others
It’s important to note that many veteran organizations additionally offer training for unskilled volunteers who are eager to take part in specific volunteer opportunities. Volunteering is a great way to do something positive for people who’ve served in the military. It’s also an excellent way for college students to get hands-on experience in specific fields, for retirees to find meaningful and personally enriching activities to fill their time, and for people of all ages to meet a diverse array of community service requirements. If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity with a veteran’s organization, reach out to a local one today for more information.