Simple Kindness: Easy Ways to Repay Our Veterans for Their Service (July 31, 2019)

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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.

Finding Work

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. 

Army Spc. Mikayla Bragg Death Ruled Suicide in Afghanistan; Report Calls for Continuity of Healthcare in Deployed Locations (December 21, 2011)

Mikayla Bragg

Spc. Mikayla Bragg, U.S. Army

Army Specialist Mikayla Bragg died of a non combat death in Khowst province, Afghanistan on December 21, 2011. Spc. Bragg was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom on behalf of the 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in Fort Knox, Kentucky. The Army ruled that Spc. Bragg’s cause of death was suicide. After an investigation it was revealed that commanders at Fort Knox failed to properly track Spc. Bragg as a “high-risk” soldier who could potentially hurt herself or others before she was cleared to deploy to Afghanistan. The Army investigators also made three recommendations in the report.

  1. Mental-health providers stateside should share more information about high-risk soldiers with mental-health providers in war zones. Camp Salerno’s behavioral-health officer said she had been unable to get mental-health records for Bragg because of privacy laws.
  2. Commanders should develop better procedures to ensure personnel data is not lost while transferring soldiers between units.
  3. No soldier, regardless of gender, should be stationed in a guard tower alone.

Related Links:
DOD Identifies Army Casualty
Army Spc. Mikayla A. Bragg
Fort Knox soldier killed in Afghanistan
Longview soldier killed in Afghanistan
Longview soldier killed in Afghanistan (KOMO)
Longview soldier killed in Afghanistan (HeraldNet)
U.S. Army specialist from Longview killed in Afghanistan
Army Specialist with Ties to Shelton Killed in Afghanistan
Family, friends remember U.S. Army specialist from Longview killed in Afghanistan
Army Spc. Mikayla A. Bragg honored in dignified transfer Dec. 24
Flags lowered to honor Longview soldier
Jan. 5: Flags at Half-Staff in Honor of Mikayla Bragg
Report Finds Female Soldier Committed Suicide In Afghanistan
Longview soldier killed herself, report says
Longview soldier killed herself, report says (AP)
Report: Longview soldier committed suicide
Public Federal Way memorial honors Spc. Mikayla Bragg
Updated: The War Dead Since Sept. 21, 2011
The Unknown Soldiers: A Box of Flowers
Signs of respect in Holliston for Memorial Day
Vancouver Memorial Day ceremony pays tribute to region’s war dead
Confidentiality Speaking
‘Fell through the cracks’: Could Longview soldier’s death have been avoided?
139 Female Soldiers Have Died in Iraq and Afghanistan
How Longview, Wash.’s Mikayla Bragg ‘fell through the cracks’
How Mikayla Bragg and 31 Soldiers “Fell Through The Cracks”
Army vet leads charge to create memorial for fallen Longview soldier
Thieves steal monument to Washington soldier who died in Afghanistan

Senator Patty Murray Calls for Changes at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Wake of Suicides (May 1, 2008)

Despite recent efforts by the Veterans Administration to prevent veteran suicide, seven have committed suicide in the Inland Northwest in the last four months and US Senator Patty Murray is calling the situation unacceptable. -4 News Now (May 1, 2008)

Related Links:
Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Veterans – United States Senator Patty Murray
“Epidemic” of military suicides investigated
Veterans and Suicide | CBS (November 13, 2007)
President Bush Signed the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act Into Law
Army National Guardsman Spc. Timothy Juneman Died by Suicide; Family Shares Imminent Redeployment to Iraq ‘Major Stressor’ (March 5, 2008)
CBS News: Veteran Suicides An Epidemic (March 20, 2008)
Seven Veterans Under VA’s Care Commit Suicide
Murray calls for changes in VA in wake of veteran suicides
Murray Assails Top VA Official over Vets Suicide Cover-Up
Rural Veterans Access to Care Act, VA’s ‘Strength of a Warrior’ Campaign, Sen. Patty Murray Calls for More to Be Done for Suicidal Vets
Murray’s visit to Vancouver puts focus on veterans issues
New data reveals high death rates for Iraq, Afghanistan vets
Investigation blasts VA over wait times for mental health care
Senator Patty Murray: Veteran’s suicide prevention bill passes Senate
Murray Reiterates Mental Health Challenges Facing Veterans
U.S. military veteran suicides rise, one dies every 65 minutes
Mental Health and Suicide Among Veterans (Senate Hearing)
Waiting At VA Hospitals: A Matter Of Life And Death
Sen. Murray: VA system needs change now, not another report
Spokane Veterans Affairs hospital brings budget concerns to Sen. Patty Murray
Senator Patty Murray Urges DEA to Get Right on Pot
Sen. Murray Urges Greater Accountability, Assistance for Veteran Suicide Prevention at Senate Hearing
As Senate Prepares to Vote on Sweeping Legislation to Improve Veteran Access to Care, Senator Murray Highlights a Provision of the Bill That She Wrote, Which Would Finally Expand VA’s Caregiver Support Program
Senator Murray Continues to Fight for Veterans and their Families, Urges Support for Bill to Reduce Medical Costs for Veterans with Newborns
Timeline of Veteran Suicides, Legislative Efforts, and Nationwide Negligence at the Department of Veterans Affairs