Go ahead and say it with us… how is it already November? It feels as if just yesterday we were handing out pizzas at San Diego Comic Con and gearing up to collect donations at the first event of the 2015 convention season. Now that the holiday season is nearly upon us, we’re winding things down and giving thanks for the people in our lives that have done so much for us all — which is why we’ve chosen for our official November #GetKind theme to honor the veterans of the armed forces who’ve led by example in that category.
According to numbers out of the Department of Defense, there are 1.3 million active duty military personnel at present in the United States alone. The number of veterans then is, unsurprisingly, significantly higher: In 2014, a U.S. Census Bureau report put the number of living military veterans at 21.8 million.
For a large number of those veterans, physical disabilities or homelessness are a daily struggle. Even for those lucky enough to avoid these problems, there is still a very real possibility of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and general loneliness or detachment, both of which affect veterans’ long-term health in a negative way.
How Can I Help?
While not all veterans are affected with these issues, serving others through military service and law enforcement is an honorable thing, in and of itself. With the season of giving just around the corner, Random Acts has decided to compile a list of ways that our supporters might be able to show their appreciation in a tangible way.
Here are just a few ways you can help:
- Write a thank you letter. The smallest gestures can sometimes make the biggest difference. Not all acts of kindness need to be huge undertakings, so grab a pen and piece of paper, and start jotting down your thoughts. Check with organizations like Soldiers’ Angels, which serves both veterans and active duty members, to be assigned a name and address if you don’t know any veterans personally.
- Write your congressman. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are nearly 50,000 homeless veterans sleeping on the streets on any given night in the United States alone. In states such as Massachusetts, however, some members of Congress are working to pass legislation that would change that by giving landlords a $3,000 annual tax rebate for offering affordable housing options to veterans and their families. Wherever you live around the globe, let your local representative know you stand for the rights of homeless veterans by demanding fair housing opportunities to those who have given so much to others.
- Donate to charities that support veterans. Speaking of housing… until the laws change, there are still plenty of organizations that give back to veterans by offering free or affordable shelter, hot meals for the homeless, PTSD counseling, healthcare, education, or representation. Seek out a helpful nonprofit movement in your neighborhood and lend a hand if you can!
- Offer to give a veteran a ride. For disabled veterans, getting from one place to another can be an enormous task. Make things a little easier on them by volunteering to drive them to medical appointments or by taking them to the grocery store on the weekends.
- Give back to furry friends. Military or law enforcement service animals often lead lives that are just as stressful and physically taxing as their human counterparts’. Check with a local military or law enforcement representative to find out how you can help cover veterinarian bills or adopt a friendly canine, and give it a loving forever-home.
- Visit your local VA hospital or residential care facility. Stop in over the holidays this month to drop off small but meaningful gifts or letters, or find out if there’s any way you can volunteer. Even a warm smile or a brief visit to an ageing or wounded veteran can make their day brighter.
- Attend a Veteran’s Day event in your neighborhood. On November 11 each year, the United States honors those who have served in the armed forces by holding celebrations, memorial services, and parades. If you live in the United States, find an event nearby and show your thanks by reaching out and giving hugs, handshakes, or thank you notes.
- Listen. Many times, veterans feel isolated from the civilian population because of their experiences. Lend an ear if you can and let a stranger or loved one know you’re there to listen if they need to talk.
- Talk about it. Social media is an amazing thing. Use it this month to show your gratitude for those who have served in the military, law enforcement, or as a first responder by posting a kind message of support to your public account.
There are so many different ways to assist the veterans in your community, and with a little bit of inspiration, we’re hoping to give back this month to those who have sacrificed their time, health, and sometimes their lives to protect others around the globe.
Let’s get out and #GetKind.