For veterans and their families, the transition back to civilian life can be challenging. But there are many ways you can guide them, while showing your appreciation for their sacrifices.
Step 1: Find a military family No matter where you live, there’s probably a military family that can use a hand. To find one, check with neighbors, religious institutions, and real estate agents – download a tip sheet at CreateTheGood.org/howto. Or contact local veterans service organizations and military bases for advice on connecting with a family.
TIP: Many veterans have a hard time asking for help, which is why it's important for you to reach out to them.
Step 2: Introduce yourself Get to know the family and find out what kind of help they need. You may find that many returning vets need help finding work or acquiring new job skills. In fact, among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, unemployment is higher than the national average.
Step 3: Offer specific help No matter who you are, you have something to offer. Connect them with your professional contacts. Teach them new marketable skills. Or offer to baby-sit while they take a class or go on job interviews. Also, their children may benefit from tutoring. Since military families move a lot, it’s often tough for kids to keep up in school.
TIP: Educate yourself about military culture at CreateTheGood.org/howto.
Step 4: Find others to pitch in Consider organizing a group of teachers or business mentors to join your efforts in helping the family. An introductory potluck dinner at a local college or guard base is a good way of bringing everyone together.
Step 5: Consider helping a nonprofit Think about donating your time to a nonprofit dedicated to helping veterans. Visit America Supports You to find organizations. You might also consider volunteering with Give an Hour, a national nonprofit that provides free counseling to military members and their families.
TIP: Volunteers who served in the military themselves, or their relatives, are especially helpful since they can relate to the returning service members.
Step 6: Share your experiences Share your experiences at CreateTheGood.org to encourage others to support our troops.
FACT: Each year more than 250,000 military personnel and their families transition out of the armed services, with most needing to start a new career.