Today's post is written by Mike Monroe, vice president of military initiatives at Points of Light.
I am a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. I continue to serve out of uniform at Points of Light, working to create initiatives that will help veterans.
Around Veterans Day, so many people are thinking about causes and ways to help. I wanted to offer a few things to think about.
- When you think about veterans, please also think about military members, their families (including their children) and families of the fallen. All of these people have made sacrifices. They all deserve our appreciation.
- Don’t make Veterans Day a day of just pausing and reflecting. Make it a day where you annually reaffirm a personal commitment to do something to help.
- Not all veterans have had the same experiences. Not all were in combat. Some may not have had a good experience during their time of service.
- If you are talking to a veteran, listen… but don’t prod. Many may be reluctant to share what they went through. Do not be offended—they are coping the best way they know how.
- Veterans are not charity cases. They want a fair shot at a good life, just like everyone else.
- If you want to help—donate or volunteer. Look for organizations that are doing more than providing “moments.” What I mean is that while veterans are appreciative of free concerts or theme park tickets, these are things that only help them for a moment of their life. You need to donate or volunteer at organizations that are providing services to veterans that are bettering their lives over the long haul. Organizations that are giving them reasons to get out of bed in the morning. Look for organizations that are doing work around basic needs—health care and wellness, education, employment. These form the foundation that ensures a vibrant veteran and translates to an amazing asset to your community.
- Look for organizations that are working at the community level. Veterans leave the military and return to communities. Services provided at the community level are the ones that are making real differences. A suggested place to start for more ideas: www.the-communityblueprint.org
This Veterans Day, make the commitment to look around your community and figure out where you can donate your time and resources in meaningful ways – ways that will give a veteran, military member, their families or the families of the fallen a reason to want to get up in the morning. To find volunteer projects that focus on veterans, check out www.signupandserve.org.