I get a lot of email from folks asking me how to help veterans and active duty servicemembers.
Of course, the USO is always my first response, as I’ve been on the receiving end of so much they’ve given.
I recently put the question to a dozen military chaplains and military family service organizations, and in observance of Veterans Day, I am listing their suggestions.
The first four organizations listed will need your cash donation, while the last four organizations can use your time, material or cash.
The Coming Home Project uses a volunteer team of psychotherapists, veterans and interfaith leaders to offer free retreats, training and counseling to returning veterans. All Coming Home programs are free and confidential. Visit cominghomeproject.net.
Operation Homefront supports both family and military members and has the huge support of Home Depot and Outback Steakhouse. They provide direct services to alleviate emergency financial burdens, as well as counseling, recovery support or both. Assistance is in the form of checks paid directly to mortgage lenders, auto mechanics, contractors, hospitals, doctors, dentists and other providers. Visit operationhomefront.net.
Wounded Warrior Project is a complete rehabilitative effort to assist warriors as they recover and transition to civilian life. Thousands of wounded warriors and caregivers receive support each year through WWP programs designed to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment. For more information on WWP, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.
The American Legion sponsors a “Heroes to Hometowns” program to help transition severely injured service members returning home from the war. Visit heroestohometowns.org
Do you want to send your support to the deployed servicemember in harm’s way, but have no idea of what to send, who to send it to, or how to send it? Anysoldier.com is the site for you. Here, you can “shop” for someone from your home state or any military branch and send exactly what is requested.
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USA Together uses the Internet to connect you directly to the injured service members and their families. The organization publishes specific needs for goods, financial assistance and services. While the organization cannot guarantee the requests are legitimate needs, they do require official documents that verify the injury or illness of the servicemember. Visit usatogether.org.
Operation: Care and Comfort is a combination of do-it-yourself helpers and cash donors. They originally limited their support to the servicemembers from the San Francisco Bay Area, but have since expanded into providing care packages to all U.S. military service members in Iraq and Afghanistan. With their Adopt A Military Family, they allow individuals, organizations and companies the opportunity to anonymously “adopt” a military family throughout the year. Visit operationcareandcomfort.org.
Finally, Adopt a Chaplain. This may be somewhat self-serving, but after all, a chaplain writes this column. They “provide tangible support that will enable chaplains to more effectively minister to those they serve.” The tone of Adopt a Chaplain is evangelical, but they do help chaplains of all faith groups. Visit adopt-a-chaplain.org.
The most important thing: Don’t forget to shake the hand of a vet and their spouse. Say thank you. No more. No less. They’ll get your meaning.