Written by Natalie Schroeder and Andrea Bowling
Researched by Natalie Schroeder
I see the dark clouds coming and I hope I can get home before the downpour starts. The spray from the passing car splashes my windshield and I turn my windshield wipers on high. As I inch my way up to the crosswalk waiting for my turn to enter the on ramp, I hear a little voice from the back.
“Mom, why is that guy sitting in the rain?”
I cannot help but look over to the corner. Quickly my eyes dart away trying not to make eye contact with the man asking for help with a soggy cardboard sign.
“He is just looking for some money,” I say quickly hoping that will satisfy her.
“V—E—T….. vet! Mom aren’t you one of those?” she asks in excitement that she read a word by herself.
“Yes, honey I am,” I answer inching my car forward.
“Do you know him?” her questions continue.
“No, I don’t know him,” I say wishing I could get past this corner.
“Why doesn’t anyone help him?”, she continues in her innocence.
“What did you want for dinner tonight? Dinosaur nuggets?” I ask turning on to the on ramp.
Continuing the drive home, I cannot get rid of the uncomfortable feeling of wanting to help but not knowing how.
Veterans helping other veterans is one of the most valuable forms of assistance out there for former service members. This is because the experiences and challenges that come from being a Veteran are best understood by other Veterans. Service members share a strong sense of camaraderie and trust with one another and, as such, many Veterans are eager to help their brothers or sisters in arms.
When Veterans help other Veterans, both sides benefit. Not only do people receive the help they need, but those who help often gain a deep sense of satisfaction that can be very therapeutic.
The ways in which Veterans provide help to other Veterans are endless. This article provides an overview of some of the Veteran-led assistance programs and resources available to former service members.
Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) was originally founded by a band of service members who came home from World War II with spinal cord injuries. This organization provides information, support, and resources to veterans with disabilities. The help they provide includes medical assistance, legal services, caregiver support, connection to national service officers, and more. To go to PVA’s website, click here.
Fisher House Foundation operates 87 comfort homes across the U.S. where active military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving medical treatment. The foundation also provides the Hotels for Heroes program which offers hotel rooms to the families of service members who are being treatment at authorized medical centers when a Fisher House is not available. To learn more about the programs that Fisher House offers, click here.
Code of Support Foundation has two programs that provide support to military members, Veterans, and their families. PATRIOTlink is a database of free and direct resources for service members, Veterans, families, and caregivers. To learn more about PATRIOTlink, click here. Through the foundation’s Case Coordination program, Peer Navigators provide direct, one-on-one support and assistance with income or housing insecurity, education, employment, financial counseling, and crisis assistance. For more information on the Case Coordination program, click here.
National Veteran Small Business Coalition (NVSBC) is a non-profit trade association that provides support to veteran-owned small businesses. By working with federal agencies and contractors, NVSBC offers first consideration for federal prime and subcontract procurement opportunities to veteran-owned small businesses and aids with verification process. To learn more about their programs, click here.
Warriors Ethos provides career mentors, coaches, counseling, and training to help former service members transition to the civilian workforce. Warriors Ethos also provides certification and fellowship opportunities. To learn more about this resource, click here.
Veteran families, friends, and caregivers can also help one another.
LOVE OUR VETS – PTSD Family Support Network, LLC is one example. Their website provides a database of national support groups for family members, as well as guidance on suicide prevention, and caregiver advice.
To access these resources, click here.
LOVE OUR VETS is continually looking to build their database of nationwide, peer support groups, so if you know of any ongoing peer support groups for Veteran families, friends, or spouses, send an e-mail containing the name of the group’s contact person, their e-mail and/or phone, website, city, and state to LOVE OUR VETS, or message them on Facebook.
In addition, LOVE OUR VETS also helps people start support groups in their area.
If you need help starting a support group, send them an e-mail or Facebook message!
Visit Know A Vet? for a list of resources for a wide range of issues and resources by zip code. Your local VSO can help connect you to other veteran or civilian organizations. To find your local VSO visit Know A Vet? and put your zip code in the box toward the top of the home page for your local Federal, State and County resources.
Watch for future articles from Know A Vet? that will discuss how to keep connected after the holidays.
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