Yesterday was Veteran's Day (here in the US; it goes by the name of Armistice Day and Remembrance Day in some other nations in the world). Back in 1918, on the the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (November), the armistice was signed that ended World War I. It was officially changed to Veteran's Day in the US after World War II, and continues to be celebrated to this day, and likely long after.
In most countries, Armistice Day or Remembrance Day serve as a time to remember those who passed during World War I (or in some, all the soldiers that they have lost in battle). Here in the United States, though, we use November 11th as a day to celebrate ALL our veterans, those who die in battle and those who return, and sometimes need much assistance.
If we keep this spirit alive well beyond the end of Veteran's Day, from today until next November 11th and well beyond, we can help a lot of veterans who are in less ideal shape upon returning from war zones, to say nothing of the family who support them during their service. How do we do this? Well, read on for suggestions on
Six Ways to Support Veterans Throughout the Year
1. Donate Money: As with almost any other area where you want to make a positive impact, one of the best ways to do so is by giving to some of the groups that support veterans. There are more than a few out there, offering plenty of opportunity for you to provide support. (Also serving as evidence that we need to do more as a country to provide for our veterans, but this article is about what we can do as individuals, aside from all the politic issues involved with veteran care.) From Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to the Wounded Warriors Project, there are plenty of places you can direct your help to support veterans.
2. Donate Time: If you don't have much money currently available, you could consider giving your time instead. There are plenty of skills that could be of service to veterans and the organizations that support them, from tax preparation to legal advice. Even if you are not a professional in an area like this that could support veterans, your time can still be valuable; even simply talking with veterans at a VA hospital could make a big difference, giving those vets without family or friends to discuss their experiences an opportunity to connect with someone and share their experiences.
3. Donate Other Things: If you don't have much time or money available to donate (and I can relate; finishing a thesis and preparing for a baby while you're between jobs doesn't give you much of either to spare), you can still make a difference by giving what you can. There are some small things you can give that can help improve some vets' lives. From magazines to gently used clothes, there are more than a few items that your local VA hospital might need that you may have around your house and for which you have no more use. Simply give them a call and see what you need; you might be able to help with nothing more than a brief house cleaning.
4. Helping Homeless Veterans: That some veterans are homeless is perhaps one of the worst facts about how we treat our vets; how we can allow the people who have risked life and limb to serve their country to go homeless is a tremendous shame. But we're focusing on what an individual can do, so I'll put the politics aside (again), and get back to the point. By donating money, time, or other items (up to cars, apparently), you can help to ensure that no vet has to go homeless. Of course, if you really want to make sure that vets don't go homeless:
5. Hire a Veteran: This is admittedly only aimed at people that run their own businesses (or work in the Human Resources department, I suppose), but still, if you are given the opportunity to hire a veteran, please consider doing so. You could be providing them with a chance to put their service to use in the private sector, and preventing some of the horror stories that you hear about what happens to vets unable to get jobs (the sort that The Daily Show discussed a few weeks ago). Plus, it's one of the few factors that isn't included in federal anti-discrimination laws, so don't worry that favoring vets will get you into legal trouble.
6. Simply Say Thank You: If you know a vet, remember to say thank you for their service. There's not too much more too it than that. Just make sure that you show your appreciation for what they have done.