There’s a lot of talk about “supporting our troops” these days. We honor our veterans and service members during church services and give our thanks for their sacrifices. While these words can have an impact, really supporting our military involves so much more. It takes action to make a difference in the lives of veterans, and here are some ways you can help.
Start a Career in Social Work to Change the Lives of Veterans
If helping veterans and service members is your passion, why not make it into a full-time career? How can a degree in social work help you help veterans and the military? Clinical social workers can work on different levels and help clients work through issues with depression and anxiety. Since depression is so closely linked to increasing suicide rates1 for veterans and service members, you will undoubtedly find purpose in your work as a clinical social worker. Other social workers specialize in helping individuals and families with major life transitions, which can be vital for veterans struggling with transitional stress2 after leaving active duty careers. With a master's in social work3, you can make a real difference in the lives of those who have given so much of themselves in service to our country. And if you already have a degree, there are numerous accredited online programs worth looking into so that you can still work and get your degree in the meantime.
Help Veterans Access Healthcare for Their Physical and Mental Health
Transitioning into civilian life can be one of the most difficult challenges for veterans of the armed forces. Social workers can help make many aspects of this process easier, but often veterans struggle the most with accessing healthcare services. Active duty service members and their families have access to free comprehensive healthcare4, which makes figuring out civilian healthcare systems so much harder. This is especially true for older veterans, so if you know a senior who needs help choosing the right coverage or who seems to be struggling with their health, you can use an online Medicare guide5 to help them navigate all their choices. This type of guide is helpful because it answers questions about services available from the VA, as well as those covered by Medicare. Getting the right care for physical health needs is important for veterans, but it’s also crucial to know how to access VA mental health services6. Combat veterans can especially benefit from the specialized care offered by the VA, so help the veterans in your life understand these benefits and how to access these services.
Take An Active Role with Local Organizations That Assist Active Duty and Vets
You may not be able to change your career to help service members and veterans, and you may not be able to reach out to help them firsthand. But if you are truly passionate about making life easier for those who serve, you can find ways to volunteer with groups that are doing the most for our veterans and service members. Any time spent volunteering with these highly rated veteran-centric nonprofits7 will be directly contributing to the lives of people who have served in various capacities with the U.S. Armed Forces. You can help active duty families by helping out with the Air Force Aid Society, assist wounded troops through Hope for Warriors, or support active duty and retired careers with Hiring Heroes USA. If you are unable to give your time to these organizations, you can also make a donation8 to help improve the lives of veterans. Finally, know that the simplest gestures are often most appreciated by veterans, service members and their families. So, consider sending a deployment care package9, offering help to the family at home, or simply being a friend to a veteran in need to make a real difference.
Create a Prayer Group
Sometimes, prayer is the best gift, and it is something that will shine a light in the darkest of days. Lift up the vets in your community by starting a public prayer group. You might visit the local VA hospital or schedule events to pray at memorial monuments. Not only are you showing the veterans in your life that they have support, but you also help strengthen their belief in the power of having a relationship with God. Supporting the troops is so much more than a statement. Showing support for the brave men and women who sacrifice their freedom and safety to protect ours takes real work. So, if you really want to help veterans and their families, do so with time and donations, not just with words.
1 - increasing suicide rates: https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/2017-09-15/depressions-role-in-increased-suicides-in-military
2 - transitional stress: https://www.military.com/veteran-jobs/career-advice/military-transition/most-vets-ptsd-isnt-problem-transition-stress-heres-what-means.html
3 - master's in social work: https://www.onlinemswprograms.com/
4 - free comprehensive healthcare: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-the-recruiter-never-told-you-3332710
5 - online Medicare guide: https://www.medicareadvantage.com/resources/medicare-for-veterans
6 - VA mental health services: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/01/health/veterans-mental-health-care-federal-investigation/index.html
7 - veteran-centric nonprofits: https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=531
8 - make a donation: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/giving-charities-help-veterans
9 - deployment care package: https://www.veteransunited.com/network/what-deployed-troops-really-want-in-their-care-packages/
10 - Photo Credit: Pixabay https://pixabay.com/photos/family-love-father-daughter-peek-729454/
Photo Credit: Pixabay https://pixabay.com/photos/family-love-father-daughter-peek-729454/