5 Ways You Can Support Veterans
Transitioning to civilian life isn’t easy. The options feel overwhelming, leaving many unsure of what to do after their military career ends. Most friends and family members don’t understand military life or the mixed emotions that arise when discharged. Too few employers consider the transferable skill sets of military members. This leaves many veterans feeling alone. Here’s how to support veterans once they return home.
#1 Check on Those You Know
Begin with who you know, as a strong support system can make a world of difference. This isn’t just for those recently discharged but for those who were discharged years or decades ago. From rebuilding and maintaining their social circle to finding equitable employment and quality housing—they have a lot on their plates.
Being discharged is more than a career coming to an end; it’s a way of life coming to an end. In the military, most key decisions are made for you. For example, where you are stationed, how long you will be there, and what job duties they are assigned. These are decisions civilians make for themselves and often take for granted.
These newfound freedoms create duality for many upon discharge. Excitement to make their own decisions and a sense of overwhelm by the options and loss of structure.
So, be there to listen. Sometimes listening is enough, but be sure to ask how you can help. Or ask if they want to talk through their options. Even if it’s someone you are mildly acquainted with, let them know you are there. If you don’t have the insights they are searching for, reach out to your personal and professional contacts.
#2 Get Involved
In addition to your personal and professional contacts, explore how else you can get involved. This could be to assist veterans in your life, in your community, or elsewhere in the nation. Not just vets, but also their spouses and children.
Don’t stress if you don’t have a lot of time or money to give. We hear it all the time because it’s true; every little bit adds up. Together, we can activate positive change in the lives of our nation’s humble heroes.
Wondering how to get involved and support veterans? A quick online search will identify local and nationwide non-profits. Most have a variety of ways you can get involved.
Donate financial resources; every dollar truly counts.
Donate food, clothing, household essentials, and more.
Donate your time or professional skill set.
Spread the word verbally and on social media.
Attend special events, fundraisers, and charity events.
Reach out directly with ideas you have for how to help.
#3 Hire or Mentor Veterans
There is a disconnect that leaves many vets struggling to find high-paying jobs as civilians. Too many organizations don’t view military service as a college equivalent. This leaves veterans undervalued and frustrated.
The military provides expert-level training in countless fields that empower veterans to hit the ground running in civilian careers. The challenge is that few employers or HR teams comprehend what skills transfer where. Or they have strict college degree requirements that leave them counting out highly skilled military applicants.
Beyond position-specific skills, the military provides powerful interpersonal skills. This includes, but is not limited to:
Management and leadership
Not in a hiring position?
During their job search or once vets begin working as a civilian, mentorship can be vital to employment success. Veterans are used to strict chains of command, so companies with open lines of communication can take some getting used to. Having a professional mentor to talk through day-to-day office and workplace culture can help vets ease into their new lives.
#4 Educate to Empathize
The sacrifice our service members make is one we can never fully repay. However, we can educate ourselves on how to support veterans and empathize with their risk factors.
We are in the midst of a cultural shift regarding the importance of mental health. This benefits all, especially service members and vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Military PTSD statistics vary by source and determining criteria. According to the Veteran’s Association, approximately 7% of military members have PTSD. The US Army reports this number rises to between 11% and 30% for those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, the Gulf War, and Vietnam War.
The ripple effect of PTSD is often misunderstood. It increases the risk of substance abuse and suicide and often intersections with the lack of high-paying job opportunities.
The National Center for PTSD findsfinds that those diagnosed with PTSD are 20% more likely to develop substance abuse.
American Psychology Association findsfinds that veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide than non-veterans.
Due to a lack of familial support and access to quality jobs, 1.5 million veterans are at risk of homelessness.
According to Military Times, veterans are 6% of the US population and 8% of the homeless population.
Statistica finds that there were approximately 32,829 homeless veterans in 2022. This number doesn’t include those in transitional housing.
Over 40% of homeless veterans are African American, Hispanic, or people of color.
#5 Never Forget
This one is short and sweet but essential—never forget those who protect and serve our country. Learning how to support veterans and active-duty military members is the first step, but don’t let it be the last step.
Say thank you.
Develop your awareness.
Get involved and stay involved.
Join Armored Souls in Supporting Our Nation’s Best!
Armored Souls Inc. is a California-based non-profit. At almost 10,400 people per night, we are home to about one-third of the nation’s homeless veteran population. Our organization serves vets living in encampments and shelters, providing access to medical services for those who don’t qualify for full medical care through the VA. This includes transportation to and from their appointments.
Reach out today to donate or learn how you can help!