This post is sponsored by UV Vodka. All opinions are my own.
To be honest, it’s a phrase that makes John a little uncomfortable and that’s almost always inevitable when people see him in his uniform or know that he’s serving. Don’t get me wrong– we both think it’s a really lovely gesture, to thank service members. He’s just not sure how to respond. I think a lot of veterans feel this way. What we see as being a sacrifice, they see as “just” doing what was asked of them.
But veterans coming out the the military today face odds that aren’t exactly in their favor. In fact, they’re not in their favor at all. And they need more than thanks (although it is obviously appreciated) to tackle some of the obstacles that are before them.
There are ways that you can help. Here are 7 that will make a real difference for veterans:
Get out that wallet! Throw down your credit card! If you want to support veterans in a meaningful, real way, put your money where your good intentions are and shop local, veteran-owned businesses (or, of course, buy veteran-owned online!). Not sure where to find them? Check out sites like The Rosie Network and Veterans List for the services and products you need.
Give Your Time
Spend time volunteering at the VA or other veterans-affiliated organizations throughout the year, not just around November or May. Many older veterans, especially in nursing homes or the VA, just need someone to talk to talk to them. You don’t have to know anything about the military– you just need to know how to hold a conversation.
Military-affiliated populations have higher-than-average rates of suicide, PTSD, domestic violence, and homelessness. Put pressure on politicians to allocate resources and create effective, long-lasting programs that support veterans and their families in tangible, meaningful ways.
If you’re in the position to hire a qualified veteran (or their spouse) who would fit your organization, consider this option. Veterans– especially those coming directly from military service– often have much experience that can translate into the civilian world… it’s just difficult to bridge the gap between civilian and military jargon, expectations, and communication. If you’re not in a position to hire someone, consider making veteran and spouse employment an issue in your community by helping to host resume workshops or sharing resources with groups (like religious centers, community groups, and service organizations).
Has a new family moved into your community? Are they relocating after military service? This is a perfect time to introduce yourself and your family.
Keep an Open Mind
Military families are not all the same. We don’t look the same, have the same political opinions, or even believe the same things about the military itself. Similarly, many military families and service members have vastly different experiences– some may have endured long deployments while for others, deployment was never part of their military journey. Others may have visible or invisible wounds from serving. There are different reasons for leaving the military, too. Don’t assume that one military family’s experience is indicative of all military families’ experiences.
UV Vodka is teaming up with Hiring Our Heroes, a program that helps veterans and spouses find employment after military service. Hiring Our Heroes is sponsored through the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation and through individual grants and donations. This November,you can support Hiring Our Heroes by purchasing UV Vodka and/or sharing the #SalutetoHeroes hashtag on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to participate in Salute to the New Heroes program. For each original post to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter using #SalutetoHeroes, UV Vodka will donate to Hiring Our Heroes. To date, the initiative has raised more than $36,500 for the organization.
What have I missed? Leave your suggestions in the comments!