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How to give back to veterans

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Members of the military serve their country proudly, often sacrificing the luxuries of home and time spent with their families to do so. When veterans return home from training or deployment, many people want to show how much they appreciate the sacrifices made by the men and women of the military, but don’t know the best way to share that appreciation.

Donations to a veterans’ charity is one measure of support the public can offer. Many charities work to serve the needs of veterans. The Wounded Warrior Project provides rehabilitation, counseling and activities for veterans who were wounded during service, while Homes for Our Troops remodels homes or builds them for troops who were injured and need their homes remodeled as a result of their injuries. The USO provides a variety of services for veterans and can always use donations or volunteers.

Another way to help veterans is to assist with their pets. Some dogs and cats get left behind when troops are deployed or forced to move. Volunteering to foster a pet until a soldier returns is another way to give back. Some military service dogs  can be injured or traumatized during battle. Working dogs can be rehabilitated or adopted upon returning home.

According to the organization Veterans, Inc., veterans are more at risk of becoming homeless than those who do not serve in the military. Some causes of homelessness include lack of education and transferable skills after returning from military life. Physical and mental health issues can make finding work challenging. Some veterans may cope with trauma resulting from their deployment by leaning on drugs and alcohol, and that can interfere with their ability to get and/or keep jobs. Individuals can help veterans by opening their homes to friends and family members who may need a temporary place to stay. Encourage veterans to embrace job training programs or seek therapy if necessary.

Providing support to military personnel both past and present can mean a world of difference. Correspond with veterans through mail, email or text messages. Operation American Soldier establishes connections between civilians and troops so that all soldiers receive daily mail, whether it’s a care package or letter of thanks.

Other simple ways people can give back to troops is to personally thank  them for serving their country. Share time with veterans and ask to spend time listening to their stories and experiences.

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