It’s clear: You’re interested in helping others and like to spend your extra time making life better for others. This is undoubtedly true for your desire to help service members, veterans, and their families -- they provide a service to the U.S., and they deserve a helping hand when they need it.
In this blog, Goodwill Industries of New Mexico takes a look at how a community can help veterans, service members, and their families the most.
1. Provide transportation to vets in your area. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) organizes a volunteer transportation network (VTN), which allows volunteers from the community to provide rides (either in government-owned vehicles or your own) to veterans who need to get to medical and mental health treatment appointments. You simply need to apply using the form on the VTN website.
2. Help a veteran purchase a home. According to an Urban Institute report, nearly 78 percent of veterans own homes, but there is always someone who could use your help with buying a home and navigating the steps of acquiring a loan. The VA offers several kinds of loans for veterans, with the main benefits being that veterans aren’t required to have a down payment ready at the time of purchase, interest rates remain competitive with market prices, and you don’t have to worry about acquiring private mortgage insurance. Help a veteran by checking to see if they qualify for a VA loan and helping them apply for it if so.
3. Get a veteran enrolled in education. As of 2016, 18.6 percent of veterans had a bachelor’s degree, and only 8.9 percent had obtained a master’s degree. One way you can help a veteran is to assist them in connecting with a master’s program like criminal justice or psychology -- or even business! -- so they can advance their career after their time in the service has ended. Attending online classes makes it easy to work full-time and earn a degree at the same time!
4. Spend time with a veteran. Sometimes, all folks need is a companion and someone they can talk to. Spending time with someone who has served in the military can not only be good for them; it can be a great thing for you as well. Some veterans are socially isolated when they leave the service, and having a human companion to talk to and share stories with can be a valuable thing indeed for these folks.
5. Take your dog to visit a vet. While you’re spending time with a veteran or stopping by the VA to do some volunteer work, why not take your pet? Getting your dog registered with the American Kennel Club as a therapy animal could be a great way for you to assist vets and help bring affection and joy to their lives. Mayo Clinic notes that animal therapy has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, pain, and fatigue -- plus it’s wonderful to see the smile on others’ faces when they see your pet.
Go forth and do goodFollowing your chosen path and helping folks in need, especially service members and their families, is a good way to honor veterans and their families to bring more love and generosity to the world around you.
6. Donate unwanted items to a local nonprofit. At Goodwill, for instance, roughly .89 cents of every dollar we spend is used to fund our free programs and services. The services include critical support services for veteran families, homeless veterans and those at risk of homelessness. It's easy to imagine the cycle as one bag of donations providing one hour of free services to a veteran in need.
Check out the following local resources for veterans and their families in Albuquerque:
Veterans Services Organizations
Goodwill Industries of New Mexico serves New Mexicans in search of employment or skills training and those in need of specialized social services. Reach out today for more info! 1.866.376.0182 (Toll Free)
Author: Kelli Brewer Deploycare.org