Support Our Heroes this Veterans Day

Earl L. Gay volunteering on September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance
Earl L. Gay

Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the brave men and women of our armed forces who risk their lives to protect our freedom and way of life.

Serving those who served us and engaging the talents of our veterans and military families is a top priority here at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers serve more than 600,000 veterans and their families across the United States. This service  includes numerous innovative partnerships with the Veterans Administration (VA) team.

Our commitment to our veterans and their families is deep and reciprocal: We serve them…and help them to serve with us.

Because of this commitment, we are asking the national service family to express a collective “Thank You” by honoring all veterans, starting with those within your respective programs and organizations on Monday, November 11, 2019. You may also consider conducting activities on Friday, November 8.

There are many ways to honor our patriots, from conducting formal ceremonies to organizing volunteer activities at local VA medical centers. Consider the ideas below to spark ideas for tributes and events.

Recognize their service
Simple acts can mean a lot. Any gathering -- whether at your place of work, with a club, or a local civic organization -- provides an opportunity to recognize veterans for their service. This can be a statement from speakers, asking veterans to tell stories about their service, or planning a community moment of silence.

Here are some other ways for volunteers to support veterans in your community:

  1. Offer Rides to Veterans in Need. Through the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Transportation Network, volunteers can donate their time and/or the use of their vehicle to provide rides for veterans in need. Donated vehicles may also be used or accepted by the program.
  2. Visit your Local VA to Support to Wounded Veterans. Wounded veterans may be far from home and in need of visitors to brighten their day. Find your local VA hospital and call to find out if you can arrange a visit. You can also help meet needs at VA facilities by collecting and dropping off socks, toiletries, or other needed supplies.
  3. Train a Service Dog. Service dogs are a great help to veterans with disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorder, helping them rediscover physical and emotional independence. Programs like Patriot Paws and Puppy Jake.
  4. Help Sponsor a “Honor Flight.” Honor Flights helps send World War II, Korea, and Vietnam veterans to Washington D.C., to see their monuments honoring their service. You can help sponsor one of those flights for as little as $4.
  5. Write a Letter or Send a Care Package. Operation Gratitude is an organization that coordinates care packages, gifts, and letters of thanks to veterans. You can work through Operation Gratitude to send your appreciation to a vet, or volunteer to help assemble care packages.
  6. Find Veterans Assistance Programs. More than likely there are veterans in your community who could use help—but how do you find them? Contact local veterans assistance programs such as Disabled Americans Veterans. The DAV can help put you in touch with local vets who need help doing chores such as yard work, housework, grocery shopping, or running errands.
  7. Support Job Training Assistance. Hire Heroes helps veterans with interview skills, resumes, and training so they can find a post-military career and partners with employers to host a jobs board. Through Hire Heroes, you can help veterans with mock interviews, career counseling, job searches, workshops, and more.
  8. Help Build a Home for a Veteran. Homes for Heroes provides mortgage-free houses to veterans and their families. You can volunteer your painting, carpentry, plumbing, wiring, and other skilled services—or you can just donate to the cause.
  9. Join a “Stand Down.” The VA continually hosts Stand Downs, one- to three-day events that give much-needed supplies and services to homeless veterans. Vets can receive everything from food and clothing to health screenings, housing solutions, substance abuse treatment, and mental health counseling. These stand downs take place across the nation all year long, so contact VA representatives in your state to learn when and how you can volunteer.
  10. Support Veterans Organizations. There are many organizations that offer a wide array of much-needed services to veterans and active duty service members. Volunteering your time or resources to any of these groups can make a significant impact in the lives of our heroes. A comprehensive list of veterans groups can be found at Charity Navigator.

Thanks again for honoring our heroes who served and their families.

One Team, One Fight!

Earl L. Gay is a (Ret.) U.S. Navy Admiral and currently serves as the Senior Advisor for Wounded Warriors, Veterans, and Military Family Initiatives at CNCS.

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