How to Provide Meaningful Support to Service Members and Veterans

Military service members sacrifice their lives for our country. Unfortunately, veterans face several problems after returning home from deployment. Although they tend to have higher rates of unemployment and mental health issues, veterans have a lot of valuable skills and knowledge to share with their communities. Here’s what you can do to help service members, veterans, and their families overcome hurdles and enjoy civilian life.


Pursue a Career in Social Work

For people who are passionate about helping veterans, a career in social work is an ideal path. Social workers who want to work with veterans often start out in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). VA social workers help veterans find housing, financial assistance, and health care, and also provide treatment for managing social problems, mental illness, caregiver burnout, and family bereavement. Most social workers complete an accredited Master of Social Work program from one of over 200 American universities. In order to graduate, most students complete around 900 to 1,200 hours of educational work in the field. If you’re not ready to jump into a career, try volunteering at veteran-related organizations.


Guide Veterans Through Their Healthcare Options

 Anyone can provide valuable help to veterans by navigating them through the maze of senior healthcare. When it comes to VA benefits and Medicare coverage, there’s a lot to consider. Sadly, many seniors forgo beneficial healthcare because they don’t know how to receive assistance. You can find useful information about VA benefits and how veterans can enroll from the United States government website. Senior veterans can receive even more healthcare benefits by enrolling in Medicare Parts A and Bl. This guide for veterans answers several questions you may have about combining veterans benefits with Medicare coverage.


Help in Specific Ways

Offering assistance to service members returning from deployment is a great way to ease their transition into civilian life. Child Mind Institute suggests specific ways you can help out. Offer to babysit, pick up groceries, or give them a ride somewhere. Veterans who are struggling financially may be interested in meal programs. If you live in Cheshire, Connecticut, you can donate to the Cheshire Community Food Pantry to provide food to people and families facing hunger. People who know veterans suffering from PTSD may consider sponsoring a companion dog — research shows that service dogs help veterans cope with PTSD.


Support Military-Friendly Businesses

A simple way to provide your support to veterans is to shop at businesses that are military-friendly. According to Task Purpose, military-friendly businesses hire veterans and support their transition back into society. These businesses also support local veterans groups and donate to nonprofits. Remember to support veteran-owned businesses as well!

If you run a business, hire veterans — they’re known for their work ethic and leadership skills. Plus, many veterans have highly refined skills in communicating, problem-solving, teamwork, and working under pressure. As a business owner, consider offering military discounts to veterans and their families when possible.


Start a Conversation with a Veteran 

Many people are afraid of offending a veteran by saying the wrong thing. While their intentions may be good, this can make veterans feel isolated from the rest of society. There are several things you can say to veterans to acknowledge their service make meaningful connections. Avoid asking sensitive questions about war, death, or mental illness, and try not to push your political opinions on them. Instead, you can ask veterans about their decision to serve, the most rewarding things about being in the military, and what they’re doing now.

Military service members put their lives on hold to defend our country. This is an act of selflessness that the rest of us should appreciate every day. Instead of simply thanking a veteran for their service, take some concrete steps to help veterans and show that you care.