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Five Ways You Can Support Veterans, Military Members and their Families on Veterans Day – OPINION

Most Americans feel genuine gratitude for veterans and military members who have served or are currently serving our country. But we can do more to actively support them aside from saying; “Thank you for your service.” From financial assistance to volunteering with veterans’ service organizations (VSOs), there are many ways across the spectrum of support through which we can show gratitude to our nation’s veterans, military members, and military families.

Help Veteran and Military Members Make Lasting Memories with Their Families

When service members return from deployments, the one thing that they want more than anything is to spend their precious time with the ones that they love the most, whether that means staying at home or taking their family to a fun event. It is not uncommon for veterans and military families to experience challenges with their finances, which can make attending sporting events, concerts, or family themed entertainment events extremely difficult. For a family of four, ticket prices can easily rise above $200, preventing many military families from these much-needed bonding opportunities.

By donating tickets or funds to the national nonprofit organization, Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix), you can help a currently serving military member or veteran create special memories with their families that will last them a lifetime. The organization provides tickets for sporting events, concerts, performing arts, and other events to verified members of all branches of the military as well as honorably discharged veterans from all eras of service. With more than 8 million tickets distributed by Vet Tix; military members, veterans and their families throughout the nation have been provided with opportunities to strengthen the bonds with their families and friends. Visit VetTix.org to learn more and to make a tax deductible donation.

Care for a Deployed Service member’s Best Friend/Support For Service Dogs For Veterans

Many military members who are scheduled to deploy have to leave behind a beloved pet, and not everyone has family who are available or willing to look after those members of the family for an extended period of time. Fortunately, there are a number of nonprofits that foster pets for military personnel while deployed. You can support organizations such as Dogs on Deployment or Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet. Along with donating, you also have the option to foster a pet. These organizations work hard to match the member of the military who need care for their pets with someone willing to care for them.  Several nonprofit organizations train service dogs to assist veterans. Service Dogs 4 Vets is a national network that utilizes rescued and donated dogs to match the “right dog” with the “right person”.

Help Veterans and Military Spouses with Their Careers

Every member of military families can benefit from your support. You can volunteer to be a career mentor for discharged veterans and military spouses. Contact the Armed Services YMCA to serve military families in your area. Along with helping with careers, the Armed Services YMCA offers a program for children in military families called Operation Hero – an after-school program that is designed to help children (ages 6-12) improve their academic performances, as well as their social intelligence.

Take Care of the Caregiver

Taking care of the individuals who takes care of others is crucial, as they spend much of their time caring for the wounded, ill and injured military service members and veterans across all branches of service. Caregivers spend their lives placing others before themselves, and can therefore struggle to find time to really take care of themselves.  Because of this they often suffer from emotional stress, depression and feelings of isolation. Organizations such as Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN) provide support for caregivers of all ages, eras and stages. If you are the caregiver of a veteran or you know someone who is, the Department of Veterans Affairs has resources that are designed to assist caregivers, including peer support, care for caregivers, tips and tools. If you would like more information on how you can incorporate caregiving into your life, while also taking care of yourself, The PsychArmor Institute hosts free online courses to help you.

Learn More About National Nonprofits

There are several reputable nonprofits that serve veterans and military families around the nation. Educating yourself about these nonprofits is a way to show your appreciation for what they do and for those who serve our country. Explore the following list of amazing nonprofits and see what you can do to help by way of volunteering or supporting in other ways.

Blue Star Families strengthens military families through career development, caregiving, and research on military life.

The Semper Fi Fund  provides urgently needed resources and lifetime support for wounded, critically ill and injured members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) provides a lifetime of support for veterans or all generations and their families in positive, life-changing ways.

The National Military Family Association provides spouse scholarships, camps for military kids and retreats for families reconnecting after deployment and for the families of the wounded, ill or injured.

Vets4Warriors is a national nonprofit that provides a live, 24/7 peer support network that any veteran, service member, caregiver or family member can contact for confidential conversations and trusted solutions to physical, mental or social challenges before those challenges turn into crises.

Mission Roll Call is a movement that is providing veterans with a powerful, unified voice that is heard by our nation’s leaders and communities.

On this Veterans Day and beyond, there are countless opportunities for all Americans to serve those who served. Giving to our servicemembers, veterans, and their families, is a gift of gratitude in which we can all take part.

Steven Weintraub

Steven Weintraub (Colonel, USMC, Retired) is Chief Strategy Officer at the Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix). He acquired his Master’s Degree in Business Administration in 2000 and participated in the Marine Corps Reserves to include two combat tours in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a Colonel, he was assigned to the Marine Corps Installations and Logistics Department in Washington D.C.