Life in the military can be
difficult. Many active service members struggle when they’re far away from their loved ones, and they can face traumatizing situations if they are overseas and serve in combat. Veterans can have trouble with their physical and mental health after completing their service, and it can take time for them to navigate the transition back into civilian life. Military families may have to move frequently, and dealing with this unpredictable lifestyle can take a toll.

But if you’ve been inspired to give back, you might be interested in going the extra mile to support people who have served in the military as well as their families. If you’re looking for ways to help, The John J Byrne Community Center has a few suggestions for how you can help make a difference!

 Support Veteran Homebuyers

 Do you know any veterans who are looking for a new rental property? Perhaps you can help them in their search. For prospective home-buyers who recently wrapped up their military career and are planning to settle down, check in with them to make sure that they’re aware of the Veteran Affairs loan program. These loans are backed by the US Department of Veteran Affairs, and the program is specifically designed for veterans and their families.

Chances are, the veterans in your life are eligible – and they’ll be happy to know that this loan program comes with plenty of benefits! For example, a veteran buying a home with a VA loan does not have to put any money down on their new property, and they can also avoid buying private mortgage insurance. This can help veterans save lots of money and accelerate the home buying process.

 Volunteer With Veterans

Do you want to work with veterans directly? There are always opportunities for willing volunteers! For instance, you could look into volunteering at events for veterans, helping veterans struggling with disabilities or mental health conditions get connected with medical providers, or get involved with a group that supports veterans facing homelessness. Think about where your talents lie and how you could best put your skills to good use. Then, reach out to local organizations that could use volunteers to find out what their needs are and how you can pitch in. Volunteering can be extremely fulfilling, and you may even make life-long friendships with the veterans you meet.

Hire Veteran Employees

Do you run a business? You can help veterans who are looking for their first civilian jobs after leaving the military. For many veterans, job hunting can be tough. They might not know how to best display their skills and experience in their resume and cover letters, they may feel unsure of how to explain their time in the military during interviews, and many simply don’t know what kinds of jobs would be a good fit for them.

As a business owner, you can take steps to make your hiring process more welcoming to veterans. Monster recommends writing job descriptions that emphasize the need for adaptable leaders with technical skills, avoiding interview questions about veterans’ specific deployments or discharge circumstances, and even getting in touch with recruiters who can help you find qualified job candidates with a military background.

If you don’t own a business but still want to help, you can assist veterans in their job searches by directing them toward special resources designed to help them with their professional development — including building a resume and prepping for a big interview.

Send Letters and Care Packages

Perhaps you know an active service member who is currently serving far from home. Or maybe you do not know anyone who is in the military right now, but you recognize that being away from family and friends is isolating, and you want to do something to help soldiers who are in this situation. Whether you know someone in the military or not, you can always send letters or care packages to those who are serving. This is a good move around the holidays in particular!

If you’re writing a letter to a loved one, you can make your message personal, but what if you’re writing to a stranger? True Money Saver recommends simply thanking them for their service, sharing some information about yourself, and talking about neutral subjects like sports, the weather, or any upcoming events back home. If you do not have an address for a soldier, look up organizations that facilitate sending mail to those serving overseas.

Maybe you’d prefer to send a care package in addition to a letter. Include items that will be useful and fun, such as travel-sized toiletries, snacks, books, magazines, or even games.

Donate to the Right Charities

You may be thinking about donating to charities that use their funds to help veterans and active service members. Before you donate money to any organization, it’s important to do some research to ensure that the charity is reputable. Clark recommends checking out how much the charity spends on their programs each year compared to their overall donations. While charities do have overhead costs, you want to make sure that the majority of your donation will be directed towards programs that are specifically intended to help those in the military or veterans.

Lend a Hand to Military Families

It can be tough for people to open up and ask for help, so don’t be afraid to be proactive about offering your assistance. Military families are in a challenging position. Although they are not actively serving, they are affected by their relative’s military career. The spouse of an active service member and their children may deal with difficult situations that their peers do not understand.

But if you know a military family in your neighborhood, you can show them your support. If they have just moved into town, you can offer to help out with errands, direct them to local services, or provide childcare if they need it. You can even assist them with appliance repair! That’ll save them the money it would otherwise cost to replace what’s broken – and you can check online prices and reviews to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Being in the military comes with a long list of challenges. But as a civilian, there is plenty that you can do to help those who are serving in the military, as well as those who have finished their service. With these ideas, you’ll be able to make a positive impact on the lives of veterans, active service members, and military families.

The mission of The John J Byrne Community Center is to provide community space for children, youth, and adults of every walk of life to gather safely to pursue opportunities for growth, enjoyment, exploring, and general well-being. If you believe in our cause, please donate!

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