No one admires American veterans more than I. Always appreciative, I express my gratitude for his or her service to our country whenever I run into one. (My sister takes it a step further and shakes their hands.) While we should extend our appreciation all the time — regardless of the person's age or the era of the war — Veteran's Day is a particularly-special occasion. Yes, we can give money to veteran organizations, but those contributions that produce more everyday support for our young and older warriors are the focus for today's column, compliments of yours truly and Reader's Digest.
1. Let's say some of us just wish to give money, as opposed to time. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with cold, hard cash (maybe via credit card donation), be sure it's being spent wisely. As I've urges in the past, especially during national tragedies, don't just hand over funds to every Tom, Dick, and Harry, no matter if they're a nationally-known organization. Remember to check how much of your contribution is spent on administrative costs as opposed to how much actually goes into the actual work of the charity. Folks might be surprised when they take a look at charitynavigator.com
2. Puppies Behind Bars has been the focus of a number of T.V. programs — and for good reason. Too many vets experience PTSD, while too many others have been left physically incapacitated. Prospective service dogs are trained by prison inmates who have themselves been trained by the organization. Volunteers are needed to host the animals as weekend guests and, also, to take the dogs to their new veteran owners from the prisons, located in New York and New Jersey. (puppiesbehindbars.com)
3. Hire our heroes. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation sponsors a process whereby it matches job seekers with companies. (uschamberfoundation.org/hiring-our-heroes) When companies post an open position on the website, it's amazing how many applicable vets it reaches.
4. Regardless of the circumstances, becoming a mentor can be very rewarding for both parties. The non-profit American Corporate Partners matches professionals with vets who need some help with their resumes, interview preparation, and career choices. Spending a few hours a month conversing over the phone is a terrific way to "reach out and touch" a vet who needs your professional expertise. (acp-usa.org)
5. Organize volunteer groups virtually (on-line) to benefit veterans, family members, and active service members. A wealth of opportunities is available if we just think about it; for instance, we could email, text, and so forth friends from all over to gather money for a honeymoon weekend leave at a charming hotel or, perhaps, your group sponsors clothing and toys for the many enlisted families who live at or under the poverty level, while the service member is off risking his or her life for our country. (hopeforthewarriors.com)
6. While living in Virginia, I often donated items to the Purple Heart thrift store (purpleheartfoundation.org). It, along with other specialized centers, such as Vietnam Veterans of America (vva.org) and Paralyzed Veterans of America (pva.org), donate clothing and household goods to vets and their families.
7. Volunteer your own time, even if only one hour. The Give an Hour volunteer network (giveanhour.org) joins you up with several vet-help activities. The examples given by Reader's Digest include sharing your expertise as a mental health counselor to planning a jewelry party. Readers may be more familiar with the group Operation Gratitude; volunteers gather to assemble care packages and write thank-you letters to vets. (operationgratitude.com)
Let's think about the level of appreciation we wish to explore on behalf of my readers – and all American servicepersons, regardless of whether they believe or not in the wars fought. We owe them a huge debt; they fought (and still are fighting) for the rights of persons to trash the flag, take a knee (regardless if we agree with the latter's particular action), and other deeds that incense many people. Perhaps our founding fathers first wrote the Bill of Rights, but our men and women in uniform – both deceased and alive – have preserved it.
Veterans and all those still serving – America salutes you!
Contact Ellen Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org