Honor Veterans on Memorial Day

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We look forward to Memorial Day as a three-day weekend that kicks off summer. Most of us enjoy days off work filled with sunshine, barbeques, and outdoor activities.

When we pause, we remember it’s about more. It’s really a holiday about honoring men and women who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy.

I’m as guilty as the next person in not giving true attention to Memorial Day. But as I get older, I’m determined not to take things so much for granted—so this May 25th, I’m giving it more than lip service and a passing nod to the news stories. That begins with this blog: sharing with you how the holiday came to be, and what we can do to commemorate the day.

graveyard-534616_640_pixabayMemorial Day, started after the Civil War, was first called “Decoration Day.” Originally designed to honor soldiers who died in the war between the North and South, it expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action.

Honoring Veterans

Taking time to attend a Memorial Day parade is one small way to give veterans the recognition they deserve. It offers a chance to talk with any young kids about family members or friends who served in the military, and to connect with what the holiday means. If there’s no parade in your area, you can watch the National Memorial Day Parade on TV.

At 3 p.m. local time on May 25, you can observe the National Moment of Remembrance, for one minute.

Share a family story: Go to the Hometown Heroes website and post a photograph and the basic information about your veteran’s service record (it’s free). They want your stories, and are creating a searchable database of military veterans.

More ways to honor veterans:

  • Upload an image of the American flag on your Twitter and/or Facebook profile
  • Place flowers on the gravestone of a veteran
  • Fly your flag at half-staff until noon and/or fly the POW/MIA flag
  • Write a thank you letter to a veteran or a current member of the armed forces and send it to A Million Thanks
  • Visit a military museum, memorial or historic site

Have you heard of the Education Center they’re building at the Wall? Watch this short video to learn about what they’re doing.

The Center will honor the legacy of military service and make sure future generations do not forget what fallen soldiers of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have done for us. It will share hundreds of thousands of objects left at the Vietnam Wall, and include photos of more than 58,000 people who gave their lives during the Vietnam War. It’s a very tangible way to honor veterans: give to the Education Center.

Donate Now

Helping Veterans

Returning service men and women face many challenges. We know re-connecting, transitioning and rebuilding their lives is not just a step-back-into-it task. They often have physical and mental battle scars—and need housing, employment, health care and mental health services.

Government programs are helping, but it also takes nonprofit organizations to provide all the services they need. So this Memorial Day, consider making a donation to provide the care, support and assistance veterans need as another way to honor their sacrifices.

Give Now

– Candy Culver
Marketing Consultant

THE MANY FACES OF HOMELESSNESS: HOW YOU CAN HELP

blog_title_image_homelessnessKnowing how to help a homeless person can sometimes feel difficult, confusing and overwhelming. The dollar you give might be used to buy drugs or alcohol. Even offering food can be a problem – imagine handing an apple to a homeless man and then discovering he has no teeth. Just as there are many reasons people become homeless, there are also many ways to help. Understanding the leading causes of homelessness is often the best way to learn what the homeless need and how you can make a positive difference in their lives. The chronically homeless, who often struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues, need a safe and stable living environment where they can get counseling and health care. To help them, consider volunteering at a local shelter or halfway house that provides longer-term housing. Donating clean towels, pillows and blankets can also help create a comfortable and safe living environment. The majority of homeless youth bw_homeless_teens_21461332have been kicked out of their homes or abandoned by parents or guardians. Others who left on their own accord have suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their families. For many, trusting another adult or authority figure can be difficult. One of the best ways to help is to simply ask them what they need. Maybe it’s a hot meal, a warm coat or a clean pair of socks; or maybe it’s information on how to get into foster care, enroll in a drug and alcohol detox program or register for the GED. Taking the time to listen to their needs, and to follow through, can go a long way in helping them regain their trust in others and get off the streets. imm needs housing homelessFor many veterans, physical disability, mental anguish and post-traumatic stress can make readjusting to civilian life very difficult. This can lead to drug and alcohol addiction, the inability to hold down a steady job and homelessness. Because many veterans have very specific needs to help them get back on their feet—job placement services, medical services, housing assistance, counseling—there are numerous ways to get involved. Consider donating your time or money to organizations which help homeless vets:

While we need to address the problem of homelessness as a whole, the more we can understand each person’s individual circumstances, the more we can help. Before making assumptions or judgments, take the time to ask some questions and do a little research. It can make all the difference. The Face(s) of Homelessness

  • Number of homeless in the United States: 610,042
  • Number of chronic homeless: 109,132 (18%)
  • Number of homeless youth under 18: 380,000
  • Number of homeless veterans: 57,849 (9%)

For more charities helping the homeless with shelter, counseling services and job training.

-Amelia Glynn, Marketing Contractor

Helping Veterans of a New Generation


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Growing up, I confess that Memorial Day didn’t have much of an impact on me. I didn’t personally know any veterans and didn’t fully understand the sacrifices made by those in the armed services.

Then came September 11th. I was a sophomore in college, and suddenly we were at war. That day, as I sat with my friends watching those towers fall, I knew everything would change. We all thought the draft would be reinstated, and recognized that no matter what, people we knew would enlist.

And enlist they did. Good friends joined the Army special forces, the Marines, and the Coast Guard. An anxiety filled my heart that I hadn’t felt before – part of me was always thinking of them, wondering if they were okay. When I heard of a service person injured or killed in the line of duty, I didn’t quite breathe until I realized that I didn’t recognize the name. In 2007, a childhood friend was killed by a roadside bomb while helping to rebuild Afghanistan, and my heart ached (and still does) for his family.

Now, when Memorial Day arrives each year, I remember people who were my own age. It is no longer an abstract holiday for me; it’s not only for older men who fought in wars that happened before I was born. It’s about men and women who have their whole lives ahead of them, and yet have already faced hardships that I can only imagine.

Soldier in stream
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Most of my friends are back in the United States now, thankfully – one after three tours in Iraq. And even though not every veteran has physical scars from their service, many suffer emotionally and have a hard time adjusting back into civilian life.

Taking a moment to remember…and offer support

This Memorial Day, as we take time to honor those we’ve lost in the line of duty, let’s also think of those who have returned to civilian life and need our support. Here are three organizations (recommended by a veteran pal of mine – thanks Ben!) that are truly making a difference and providing valuable services:

American Corporate Partners
ACP’s mentor program pairs veterans with executives at top companies like AT&T, Pepsico, Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson. Veterans receive guidance and advice on all things career-related, and can take advantage of the vast networking opportunities of their highly successful mentors.
Donate

United War Veterans Council
Among other outreach, the UWVC puts on the famous Veterans Day Parade in New York City each year. More than just a parade, events like this create an overlapping community between military life and civilian life. For veterans who feel isolated by their military service and have a difficult time adjusting to civilian life, UWVC helps ease the transition.Donate

Wounded Warrior Project
The Wounded Warrior Project gives direct aid to veterans who were injured in the line of duty. They help wounded veterans get access to medical care (which is more difficult than it should be), secure jobs and develop careers, and readjust to civilian life.
Donate

The hardships faced by military personnel don’t end the moment they return to the United States. For many veterans, especially those who have been injured or traumatized, the hardest days are still before them.

Soldiers honoring a fallen comrade
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This Memorial Day, as you think about those we have lost, please also consider those who continue to pay a hefty price for their service; they truly have sacrificed for our country. The organizations I mentioned above aren’t the only non-profits that could benefit from your generosity. If you feel so moved, check out the JustGive Guide for more.

What veteran’s organizations do you support? Do you know a veteran who has been helped by non-profit services? We’d love to hear about it – leave us a comment below or share your story on our Facebook page!


– Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Our veterans deserve our thanks and support

According to MilitaryReporter.Net, the United States is home to more than 22 million veterans. This Memorial Day show your support, not only for our military currently fighting overseas and those that gave their lives, but also for our veterans at home as well.

Their changing needs

Nearly one in all 10 veterans has served in our Armed Forces since September 2001, and these veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have different needs than veterans of the wars in Korea and Vietnam. Most are men and women in their 20s and 30s who are just starting families and trying to find employment in a tough economy.

Many veteran assistance organizations are struggling to survive when the services they offer aren’t meeting the needs or being used by vets today. Thankfully, some organizations are finding new ways to reach out and assist today’s veterans. Retired U.S. Air Force Major, Dorian de Wind, writes about how the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization is responding to the issue in his Huffington Post article:

“VFW posts are often times viewed as smoke-filled ‘watering holes’ where a bunch of old guys sit around drinking beer, playing bingo and telling war stories.” Members of the VFW Post 4443 in Texas want to be “a safe haven for returning veterans…a place where they can enjoy the quiet peace and tranquility needed for them to find themselves…a place where they can bring their families and enjoy the swimming pool, quiet game rooms, picnic and BBQ areas.”

NPR News addressed the same topic with Robert Siegel on All Things Considered. They talked about a relatively new organization located in Milwaukee, Dryhootch, whose motto is “helping the veteran and their family who survived the war, survive the peace.” It started as a coffee house where veterans can re-connect and find the support they need without feeling forced to commit to a VA program or using alcohol or other substances to fill a void. Dryhootch offers peer-to-peer support to veterans of all eras. They also have an online community and resources—offering services in other ways that may make new veterans feel more comfortable receiving help, advice, or counseling.

Organizations helping veterans

There are many great organizations working to provide veterans with the support they need. A few I’d like to mention:

  • The Wounded Warrior Project offers numerous resources for veterans—advocacy, counseling, family support, peer mentoring, and work programs. Their Combat Stress Recovery Program addresses the mental health needs of recently-returned soldiers, providing them with the tools to recognize what they are going through and helping them understand how to deal with it.
  • Soldier Ride gives returned soldiers a way to “reclaim their confidence and strength through the exhilaration of cycling.” The focus of the ride is to give wounded soldiers a way to empower themselves and improve their physical and mental health.
  • The Warriors to Work program helps veterans figure out how to use their military skills to enter the civilian workforce. They also educate employers on the benefits of hiring veterans as well as fight common misconceptions about veterans.

This Memorial Day, why not make it a point to help a veteran’s organization continue to offer necessary services by starting a monthly recurring donation to one of these organizations? We enjoy the freedom they have fought to give us—and they deserve our thanks and support. I think we owe them that.

Do you have a special way to honor and support those who have served? Share it with us on Facebook and let’s get others on board too!

Marketing Assistant, Julia Hughes