Last Memorial Day, I threw a rather large hissy fit about our need to actually remember our soldiers more than twice a year. I waxed on about what they’ve done for our country deserving not only recognition, but support throughout the year. It’s easy enough to give a nod or thought to what those who have served their nation have done for us, though societally I think we by and largely fail to do even that. We let them silently protect us, die for us, and serve our nation while we casually tear it apart politically. We erect monuments and maybe we give them a nod when they walk down the street, but this is but lip service in small moments of time that while showing much deserved respect, does little to actively give thanks or show support.
Our veterans are hurting, especially those coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq. Compared to the casualties of Vietnam and the world wars, we have fortunately not lost nearly so many, but that does not mean they have not fallen victim to the war. Suicide among our veterans is astronomical—120 commit suicide every week, 1,000 attempt it, and they account for 20 percent of all suicides in the U.S. Nearly one in five veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and 19 percent have a traumatic brain injury. Because of the advances in medicine and gear, our troops are coming home from war, they’re surviving their injuries, but they are still suffering and oft forgotten among society. The wars may not have been popular, your politics on them may differ, but those who served are not those who led us into these wars—they are the ones who put themselves on the line and irrevocably changed the rest of their lives to serve their country.
It’s time we give back.
This Veterans Day, let’s do more than just pay lip service and make a “thank-you post” to social media. Let’s show our gratitude through a little service and a little sacrifice of our own. I know as twenty-somethings our paychecks aren’t sizable, that we don’t have a lot to give, and many of us are stretched thin already. But do we really need that Starbucks today? Could we resist buying something during the weekend sales? When we’re out grocery shopping could we budget for a few extra items? Instead of gaining weight chowing down on the leftover Halloween candy could we donate it instead? If money and time is really so tight, could we not sit down and compose a letter to our troops overseas so desperate for word from home? There are so many ways we can help if we just choose to do so, and to get you started, here are some of the organizations I’ve donated to in the past.[divider] [/divider]
These guys are one of the biggest names in helping our wounded veterans get back on their feet when they come home. In their own words: “Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) takes a holistic approach when serving warriors and their families to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement. Through a high-touch and interactive approach, WWP hopes to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.”
You can’t really argue with that mentality, and unlike a large number of charities, your money is going directly to serve our soldiers. They’re not just helping them get the medical and financial help they need, but working with their families, getting them jobs, homes, and most importantly giving them the support they need to readjust after the war. As their motto says, “The greatest casualty is being forgotten.”
They also make it very easy for you to contribute. You can buy certain products at the grocery stores that support our veterans. They’ve teamed up with Under Armour so you can buy gear that you actually want that supports our troops. For the more athletic, you can sign up for their 8K runs. Of course, you can also directly donate. As the holidays are approaching, donating for someone you love or who served can be an incredibly meaningful gift, one that stretches far past the hottest gifts of the season.[divider] [/divider]
If you’ve ever had a dog, you know there is little else on this earth that can make your day a little brighter and life a little more bearable. When our veterans return and are suffering from debilitating injuries both physically and mentally, a service dog can not only make their life easier, but see them through some of their darkest hours. Hero Dogs and Soldier’s Best Friend train service dogs to respond to the particular needs of veterans, which is an incredibly costly venture. However not only do donations go to giving veterans a furry friend and companion, you’re also helping save a dog’s life too. Both organizations use rescue dogs, and Soldier’s Best Friend uses exclusively former homeless dogs. You can save two lives in one by donating or volunteering for either of these organizations.[divider] [/divider]
While today is Veterans Day, we can’t forget our active service men and women. They’re abroad and missing home, a simple care package can go a long, long way. Recently, one of my dear friends had a birthday party for her 1-year-old. Instead of having guests bring toys to fill the house or clothes her daughter will grow out of instantly, she and her husband adopted a platoon. They gave us a simple list from chocolate to socks, gum to paperbacks, pens to floss, powdered drinks to bandaids, and other small things in between. After the party, they filled two huge boxes full and sent them off to their platoon.
Founded by a mother of a soldier, she started sending care packages to her son and his friends, and it escalated from there. It’s simple to do, the foundation will put you in touch with a US soldier or company, and make it easy for you to ship it to them. It gives you the ease of mind of knowing everything you’re sending is going directly to those who need it, and that by just adding a few extra items to your shopping cart, you’ve helped make the day a little brighter for those who are serving.[divider] [/divider]
- Veteran’s Support
- The Fisher House
- Gary Sinise Foundation
- Operation Gratitude
- Operation USO Care Package
- Give 2 the Troops
Today I hope as you’re thanking veterans and hopefully enjoying your day off, you take a few moments of time or a few dollars out of your pocket and truly help those who helped you. As a generation we are accused of being self-absorbed and narcissistic. Let’s prove everybody wrong today and not only remember the sacrifices, but give of ourselves in return. Literally, Darling is donating; will you?[divider] [/divider]
How are you helping a veteran? Tweet us @litdarling
Photo by Jano Silva
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