There are roughly 18 million veterans and nearly 1.2 million active-duty United States military members today (as of June 30, 2020). That represents approximately six percent of the United States’ total population who are working or have worked to protect our freedoms in this country.
As we move toward Veterans Day on November 11, here in the U.S., it’s likely we’ll see an increased number of social media posts offering words of support and encouragement to our valiant men and women. While this is a kind gesture and, in some ways, can help support this incredibly brave group of people serving their country, it’s high time we considered ways in which we can do more than just take up space on a social media feed.
Here are seven real-world ways that we can support both our veterans and our active troops on Veterans Day.How to Support Our Active Troops
Whether you know someone who is an active military member or you have a family member who is currently serving at home or abroad, it’s vital to support our active troops year-round. The things they face on the world stage are well beyond what we see or perceive, whether we read about them in the news or hear about them on social media. The best way to support our troops is with compassion and kindness first and foremost.
However, if you have the means and would like to support active military members in other, more tangible ways, there are plenty of organizations you can donate to or work alongside to help support our active troops. Here are a few that I recommend.
Write Letters and Send Care Packages to our Troops
Deployed troops often feel homesick as they serve abroad or away from their homes and their families. Getting a personal letter or care package from someone back home can ease some of that, and there are a few organizations that can help your letters get to troops who need them the most.
Organizations like Operation Gratitude, Soldiers’ Angels, and Support Our Troops offer ways for you to send notes and care packages to deployed soldiers. They offer a list of what you can send (and what you shouldn’t) and how best to get your goods to a deployed soldier.
As I have written before, U.S. Money Reserve is dedicated to helping our veterans and active military service members in any way we can, too. That’s why we created our letter-writing
program called Wings of Gratitude. You can send letters, photos, or digital notes to deployed soldiers to thank them for their service and support them during their time abroad. The program also allows you to send messages of gratitude to veterans.
We created the program in order to give back to our nation’s military heroes while creating a fun and gratifying experience for families to get involved in a creative service project. We are also sending one silver 2-ounce Iwo Jima bullion coin to each active-duty or veteran military member who receives a message of support, for the first 10,000 messages that are delivered. It’s a really neat program that I believe in strongly, and it is an easy way to show your support for our deployed troops.
Donate to the USO
As civilians, we may only be familiar with the USO if we’ve passed through an airport where the organization has space for active military personnel to rest, relax, and refuel as they travel from one point to another. The USO, or United Service Organizations, is not associated with the Department of Defense but is an organization that provides welfare, services, and activities for troops and their families. They also have USO Treehouse, which supports programs for kids in military families as well. You can volunteer or donate and help support our troops as they protect our freedom.
Support WISH for OUR HEROES
WISH for OUR HEROES (WO4H) is one of U.S. Money Reserve’s partners that provides resources to “average” military members to make their deployments a little easier and improve the quality of their family lives while home or during deployment. These resources can include everything from basic emergency needs like housing repairs or baby care items to granting wishes like vacations to help families get reacquainted or special celebrity meetings.
These acts can help support an active-duty member as they transition to and from their deployment and can be incredibly valuable for military members and their families.How to Support Our Veterans
I have outlined what company leaders can do to help support our veterans in past posts, but there is plenty more that each one of us can do on an individual level to help support veterans. Remember, there are nearly 20 million veterans, and they all deserve our gratitude and support for their service.
Donate Your Time at a Local VA Hospital
As we navigate our way through the current global pandemic, it’s important to recognize that one of our most vulnerable populations is veterans at the VA hospital. Whether they are recovering from injuries sustained while serving or dealing with complications from the flu or even COVID-19, these veterans are facing crucial healing time. The best way to support them in their journey is to donate your time, your money, or goods that patients need while they recover.
According to their website, the VA hospitals have been inundated with volunteers and are experiencing a bit of a backlog in getting back to potential volunteers. You can find out more about the details of volunteering by visiting the VA Voluntary Service page here.
Keep in mind that COVID has changed what the VA accepts in terms of physical donations and the rules that volunteers in the space are required to follow. We want to keep everyone safe during this pandemic, so it’s vital to educate yourself on the rules and requirements before deciding to donate your time at a local VA hospital.
Donate to a Veterans’ Charity
There are some truly amazing veterans’ charity organizations out there, and they can do a world of good when it comes to helping support our vets as they return home and readjust to life back in the United States. Some of my favorites include the Wounded Warrior Project® and Hire Heroes USA. If you head over to Charity Navigator, a site that acts as an independent charity evaluator, you can find a list of fantastic charities that focus on supporting our troops, both those on active duty and those who have come home. Use Charity Navigator to evaluate the charity of your choice, and you can find the right one to donate time or money to in support of our veterans.
Donate to Programs Dedicated to Educating the Public About the Military
While most civilians have a rough idea of the sacrifice and dedication that our troops, both those deployed and those who are no longer active, have made, there’s always more understanding to be gained. That’s where educational programs come into play.
Organizations like the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation and the World War II Foundation work to create events, archives, and education for the general public around activities and important military events in U.S. history. Many of these programs rely on the donations and service of volunteers, and even in the time of COVID-19, they are still looking for help and support. While the museums may be closed and the events canceled, for now, it’s essential to continue to support these groups as they do amazing work to support our veterans and active military members.
Volunteer to Participate in the Veterans History Project
The Library of Congress and various partners have created the Veterans History Project. It’s a program that “collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.”
Since not every veteran can record themselves, you can volunteer to record or take video and photos for veterans. The Project has a great guide on how to conduct the interviews and what you should send here. The veteran’s story then becomes part of the Project so that their legacy, dedication, and courage can live on well into the future.
While it’s always kind to post our support on social media, we need to put our money where our mouths are and ensure that we are doing things in real life to support our military heroes, both those who are still deployed and those who have finished serving. The more we can do to support and sustain the brave men and women who risk their lives to protect ours, the stronger we make this country.