Guest post by Kelli Brewer, DeployCare.org
Simple Kindness: Easy Ways to Repay Our Veterans for Their Service
It can be very difficult for the average American, especially those with no military experience, to appreciate the mental, physical, and financial impact that years of military service can have. The situation comes into focus when you consider that there are more than 1.3 million men and women on active duty, with more than 800,000 in the country’s reserve forces.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, family problems, and lack of employment opportunities can place a huge obstacle in the way of returning service members who just want things to return to normal. Unfortunately, it’s often not that easy, especially for those who return with debilitating injuries. If you’re looking for a way to help out, here are a few ideas.
Say ‘Thank You’
The Vietnam War experience taught Americans that returning service members can be seriously affected by the nature of their return. If it’s critical or indifferent, veterans may feel unsupported and unappreciated. And while today’s military personnel typically don’t face the kind of harsh criticism that confronted Vietnam-era servicemen and servicewomen, they can still be powerfully impacted by a lack of support and understanding. If you want to help a veteran, acknowledge their service by shaking their hand or offering a sincere “Thank you.”
The Health Care They Need
Veterans, particularly seniors, need to understand how their health insurance works. For those enrolled in Medicare Part A or B, there are several out-of-pocket costs, and to complicate matters further, plans often change from year to year. Fortunately, you can enroll in a Medigap plan, which may provide more of the benefits you need. For example, Plan F covers the deductible that comes with Medicare Part B, though certain changes to this particular benefit will go into effect beginning in 2020. Knowing your coverage and understanding how Medicare functions is essential for getting the most out of your coverage.
Help Veterans Reintegrate Socially
A soldier who returns home without a job or without access to social services may feel lost and alone. Consider organizing an event for returning service members, perhaps schedule an evening at the movies, an informal dinner setting, or get together every week at a nearby coffee shop. Make it a venue where everyone can talk about their experiences, hopes, and frustrations.
If you have a relationship with a veteran, offer to help out in specific ways. For example, if your friend has trouble scheduling a medical or therapy appointment, reach out by offering to babysit or offer to give them a ride if they lack transportation. There are many ways to volunteer, just by making efforts of simple goodwill.
Veterans often find that the skills they learned in the military don’t translate well into steady employment once they’re discharged. That can be especially true of veterans who lack a degree or some form of higher education. If you’re a business owner or have access to human resources personnel at work, why not put in a good word for a veteran who’s having trouble latching on somewhere? Your company will earn tax credits for hiring veterans. Sometimes, a foot in the door is all a veteran needs to impress a prospective employer.
Be a Willing Listener
You don’t have to be close friends with a service member who just needs a sympathetic ear. Give a veteran an opportunity to share their experiences. You really don’t need to say much, just be present in the moment and listen without judging or criticizing. It’s a simple but important gesture because many have no one to talk to, no outlet for their frustrations and anxieties.
Simple gestures are sometimes the best way to help veterans, service members, and their families. Be willing to provide the kind of support and assistance you’d offer to anyone. It’ll make you feel great and it’s a great way to thank our military heroes for their service.