Many people have a desire to give back to veterans in thanks for the sacrifices they’ve made for the country. There are a lot of opportunities out there and finding the one that is right for you can be overwhelming.
How can you volunteer for veterans in the US?
Start with a Broad Program
If you aren’t sure where to begin your search for volunteer opportunities, consider a broad organization that offers plenty of options. Veterans Inc. is a non-profit organization that has been connecting volunteers and veterans programs since 1990. They work with a number of different programs that offer service and support to veterans.
Opportunities for Veterans Inc. include:
- Driving veterans to appointments
- Sponsoring events for residents of housing programs, including cookouts, holiday parties, and the annual Stand Down in June event
- Hand out food at the veterans food pantry or sponsor a meal in the program
- Organize or participate in a fundraising event, such as the golf tournament, pancake breakfast, Road Race, military ball, or Freedom Song Festival
- Help with maintenance of the facility
- Provide office support, such as preparing bulk mailings or managing special projects
- Greeting donors and volunteers at events
- Organize or sponsor a recreational event for residents, including a nature walk, a board game night, or a softball game
- Teach or tutor residents in a special skill or subject matter
Veterans Inc. is always looking for people who have ideas for how they can provide service and support to the veterans the organization supports. If you have ideas for how you can help that is not listed above, contact them to discuss your idea.
Specific Organizations that Help Veterans
If you’re unable to work with Veterans Inc., there might be specific organizations in your area that provide services and support to vets. Consider the following:
You can volunteer to help build a veteran a home.
The Fisher House Foundation works with vets and their families to help them get into their own homes. Volunteers help with the building process and to date, the program has helped more than 12,000 military families.
You can support those wounded in combat.
The Wounded Warrior Project works with veterans who were wounded in service. They provide assistance with recovery and support adjusting to civilian life after service, even for things like post-traumatic stress disorder. There are many opportunities to volunteer, regardless of your experience and skills.
You can assist veterans in finding employment.
One of the biggest challenges veterans face when they return to civilian life is finding employment. Groups like Hire Heroes USA assists with job searches, training, and placement for members of the military and their spouses.
Welcome Back Vets is another charity that works in conjunction with Major League Baseball. The organization helps vets transition to civilian life and has given millions of dollars to non-profit organizations that help vets dealing with TBIs and PTSB.
You can support military members while they’re away.
There are lots of ways to show your support of service members while they are on active duty. The USO is an organization that provides entertainment and a variety of programs across the country and the globe. They work on military bases and at airports. If you’re looking for a way to volunteer, you can do so home or away.
Showing your support can also be as easy as sending a thank you note to a soldier who is deployed or giving them the ability to place a call home. Anysoldier.com offers information for sending thank you cards and care packages when you don’t know of a specific service member to write to. If you want to help a service member call loved ones, you can send calling cards or cell phones and plans to soldiers overseas.
You can offer help to those who have loved ones in the service.
It’s important to remember the soldiers themselves aren’t the only ones who make a sacrifice. There are ways you can volunteer to support the families of soldiers and veterans in your community. Organizations like Blue Star Families and Operation Appreciation helps volunteers do what they can to make life easier for military families. They provide books, thank-you cards, and other items that can make life a little easier when things are rough.
You can contact the Department of Veterans Affairs and ask what opportunities are available in your area to volunteer. Every community is different and has varying needs. The VA can put you in touch with organizations near your home where you can volunteer to help.
What You Should Consider before Volunteering
Volunteering to help veterans is a great way to give back, but there are a few things you should consider before joining up with an organization.
First, consider what type of volunteer work you’d like to do. Not every opportunity is right for everyone. For instance, if you’re handy with tools, one of the organizations that help you build or upgrade homes for vets is a great option. But if that’s not your thing and you’d prefer to help in an administrative manner or by socializing with veterans, there are still plenty of opportunities available.
Next, find out if the organization that offers the support and services you want to offer has a local office. It’s always better to work locally when possible. This makes it easier to connect with people and avoid some of the red tape that happens in larger organizations that operate at a federal level.
You might also want to check out the background information on the organization. There are plenty of great opportunities out there, but there are also a few scams. The last thing you want when you’re trying to help veterans is to get involved with a scam.
You can check out CharityWatch.org to find out how the organization you’re considering operates and how they are ranked by those in the know. Googling the organization will also turn up enough information for you to make a proper evaluation of the organization. All it takes is a few minutes to check things out and make sure the volunteer organization is on the up and up.