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How You Can Make a Difference in the Lives of US Veterans

As a whole, the American public believes that military veterans deserve respect and support. However, with so many veterans facing unemployment, homelessness, and mental health problems, among other challenges, it’s clear we’re not doing enough.

It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of veterans’ issues. Problems like veteran homelessness and PTSD can’t be solved by one person’s goodwill, but that doesn’t mean individual efforts don’t make a difference. Here are ways you can help America’s veterans.

5 Ways to Help Military Veterans

**1. Call Your Representative **

When there are legislative issues that affect veterans, don’t sit back and hope for a good outcome. Call your congressional representative to express your support for issues that matter to veterans; find your congressional representative here.

**2. Support Veteran-Owned Businesses **

Where you spend your money matters. Make the effort to find and patronize the veteran-owned businesses in your community. Find a list of veteran-owned businesses in your state at the American Veteran-Owned Business Association.

3. Give a Veteran a Ride

Veterans who live far from VA hospitals have a hard time accessing the care they need. New telehealth options have provided rural veterans with more options, but not every healthcare matter can be solved over video chat. If you know a veteran who needs help getting to medical appointments — or just needs some company and comfort on the drive — offer a ride.

4. Service Dogs for Veterans

Service dogs help veterans with a variety of issues, particularly PTSD. Supporting service dog organizations help to provide a veteran the tools they need for better mental health.

**5. Make a Career of Helping Veterans **

If you want to make a big difference in the lives of veterans in your community, there’s no better way to do it than with a career in social work. Social workers play a big role in supporting veterans. They provide mental health services to veterans with PTSD, help veterans access their benefits, and get homeless veterans into housing. To get into this career, you’ll need to complete a Master of Social Work degree program as well as 900 to 1,200 hours of fieldwork.

Helping Service Members and Military Families

Veterans aren’t the only ones who need our support. Active duty military and their families also face a wide range of challenges. Service members cope with low pay and long hours that keep them from their families, along with deployments that often mean missing critical moments in children’s lives. At home, military spouses face employment difficulties, frequent moves, and juggling the responsibilities of two parents while their spouse is away.

The nature of military life means it’s hard for civilian and military families to connect. However, odds are you have military families living in your neighborhood. When you meet a military family through school, work, or elsewhere, introduce yourself. Once you get to know a military family, you’ll learn what type of support will make the biggest difference in their lives, whether it’s giving the kids a ride to school, mowing the lawn, or simply being a friend.

Whatever you do, don’t think veteran’s issues are someone else’s problem. The brave men and women who serve our country do it to maintain everyone’s freedoms, and supporting veterans, service members, and military families is the least we can do to give back. Whether you have a lot of time and money to give or just a little, there’s something you can do to make a difference.

Image via Unsplash

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