9 Ways to Support Veterans This Holiday Season
Updated: Dec 5, 2018
From: Veteran Aid
As the giving season approaches, there’s no better time to reach out and support veterans as a sign of appreciation and gratitude for their sacrifices and service. The good news is that there are numerous opportunities to give back in your own community, and most only require your energy and time.
Here are nine easy and meaningful ways to honor the military community and support veterans this holiday season:
1. Deliver a hot meal.
Limited budgets, isolation and difficulty with transportation can all add up to create a food shortage in the homes of elderly veterans. Organizations like Meals on Wheels supports 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs across the country, utilizing more than 2 million volunteers to deliver nutritious meals, make friendly visits and conduct safety checks to enable America’s seniors to live independently. Some chapters have specific veterans services, but with more than 9.5 million veterans over the age of 65, you are bound to encounter many who have served while volunteering.
2. Give in honor of veterans or service members.
If you’re struggling to find a perfect gift for someone in your life, consider donating in his or her name to a reputable military or veteran charity (see our tips for finding a reputable military charity). Whether you want to help the homeless, the injured or veterans from a specific conflict, you can support veterans by choosing a cause that resonates with you, or that your loved one truly cares about. Most organizations will provide you with receipts or special letters that can be given in a Christmas card to your recipient. Additionally, you can browse the online USO Wishbook to select gifts most wanted by deployed service members, like comfort food packages, long distance bedtime stories, phone calls home and technology to connect.
3. Help around your own neighborhood.
As the population of U.S. veterans age – and more veterans from more recent conflicts are returning home with life-changing injuries – there is most likely a good opportunity in your own neighborhood or community to assist a veteran in small but meaningful ways. Whether it’s helping hang Christmas lights, mowing a yard or helping with a simple repair, a small gesture might make a big difference for someone with physical limitations. Be sure to respect their privacy and wishes, but offering to help is a great way to show your gratitude and support.
4. Help fight veteran homelessness.
More than 39,000 veterans are estimated to be on the streets on any given night this holiday season. It may seem overwhelming, but there are practical ways you can help support veterans, such as participating in a local Stand Down, a multiple day event that brings numerous resources to a central location to make them more accessible to homeless veterans. Basic needs are met through provision of clothing, hot food and mental and physical health care. Additionally benefit claims processing, childcare services, job counseling, legal assistance and referrals are often provided by community and government partners.