Men and women sacrifice family time, personal safety, wellness, education, employment opportunities and so much more when they sign up for the military. Days such as Veteran's Day and Memorial Day call attention to veterans' service, but it's important to understand these sacrifices and keep them in mind throughout the year because war should not be taken lightly.
A great opportunity to acknowledge veterans' service is National Volunteer Week, taking place April 10-16. Whether you're an experienced volunteer or have never volunteered before, there are countless ways to give back to veterans in your community. If you're not sure where to get started during National Volunteer Week, consider focusing your efforts on helping veterans.
10 Ways To Give Back To Veterans
National Volunteer Week can go beyond just putting in community service hours. This week serves as a great opportunity to give back to veterans and those serving the military in many ways.
- Donate clothes or household items to a thrift store that benefits veterans.
- If you have an older or disabled veteran in your neighborhood, reach out to them this week to see if there's anything you can do to help around their yard or house. Your older neighbor might appreciate the help with physically-demanding chores. If nothing else, they will enjoy your company.
- Invite a veteran you know to share their story through a project such as NPR's Story Corps or The Library of Congress' Veteran's History Project. Preserving someone's story is a great way to honor them.
- Find a local veterans charity that needs volunteers. Volunteers may be needed for anything from raking leaves for elderly veterans to tutoring veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries. Volunteer Match can be a great place to start.
- Prepare care packages for active duty military members stationed overseas. Receiving a package from the U.S. can make a foreign place feel more like home.
- Seek out volunteer opportunities through your local VA center. Students seeking medical degrees can gain experience volunteering at a VA hospitals. Corporate groups can work with their local VA to create a company-sponsored volunteer mission to help veterans. Individuals can also volunteer to drive veterans to their VA medical appointments.
- Show your support for veterans by buying from veteran-owned businesses. There are more than 3 million veteran business owners in the U.S.!
- Write a letter thanking a local veteran or veteran's organization for their service. Veterans living in a nursing home might be extra appreciative of a card reminding them that their service still matters to someone in the community years later.
- If you're good with dogs, consider volunteering with an organization that trains service dogs for disabled veterans.
- Donate your car to Vehicles For Veterans by calling 1-855-811-4838 or filling out an online car donation form. Your donation is tax deductible and you will receive free towing. The best benefit of all is that it supports programs that give disabled veterans and their families a better life.
No matter what you do, there are countless ways to show your appreciation and make a difference for veterans during National Volunteer Week! Share what you're doing to help veterans and encourage others to get involved this week on social media using #NVW2016.