“We don’t know them all, but we owe them all.” –Unknown

For many Americans, the term “veteran” is one that we are familiar with. We’ve heard it in reference to “Veteran’s Day”, War Veterans, World War II veteran, Vietnam veteran, and many more. According to Wikipedia, a veteran is defined as “A person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field. A military veteran is a person who has served and is no longer serving in the armed forces. Those veterans that have had direct exposure to acts of military conflict may also be referred to as war veterans.”Veterans are also those who have seen combat and are still serving in the armed forces.

The effects of war and combat on veterans has far-reaching effects that extend far away and long after the battlefield has ended. Some wounds are obvious to spot, such as, physical deformities and amputations whereas, some are harder to see. Some veterans return home with physical reminders in the form of amputations, burns, paralyzed, and even bullet holes. Unfortunately, many veterans return from combat with scars and wounds that they battle with behind closed doors.  For many, that includes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bi-polar disorder (manic-depression), sleep disorder, substance dependence and more. Although, many do return home, with invisible scars and wounds of war, it is important to note that not every veteran who sees conflict returns home “broken” or “damaged” as is often depicted in movies and on television.

It is when they have returned home and are no longer faced with life-threatening conflict that many of these side-effects are made known. For some the side-effects of war and conflict rear their ugly head shortly after returning home, for other veterans it takes longer for the ill-effects of war to manifest themselves. Regardless of when or if depression, anxiety and other effects are made known, it is imperative that veterans receive the help that they need and have earned.

Upon returning home from war, service members are not the only ones who have to make an adjustment to the “new normal”. Often times their spouse and children have become accustomed to daily life without them, operating daily as a single-parent family for the time that their service member is away. Upon return home, schedules the parental roles have to be redefined. This adjustment is not always easily made as young children often have a hard time adjusting to another parent’s discipline, whereas older children can push back to see what they will be able to get away with.

Because returning home is an adjustment period for everyone involved, it is no surprise that some service members have a harder time than others. This is especially true for those who have suffered an injury due to combat, or have lost fellow comrades in combat. We know that the effects of war can have far-reaching effects that service members carry with them long after the dust has settled on the battlefield. Because the side-effects are varied and affect a vast array of individuals, it is imperative that resources that make it easier for service members to adjust back into their life are easily and readily available.

Through organizations such as Wounded Warrior Project, Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial Fund, veterans and their families have access to resources that can aid them through the transition home and provide treatment for injuries—physical and mental that, sustained as a result of their service to our great nation.

Wounded Warrior Project

According to the Wounded Warrior Project’s website, there are over 52,000 service men and women who have been physically injured during recent military conflicts. Additionally, there are 500,000 veterans currently living with invisible wounds as a result of their military service. These wounds include depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. A whopping, 320,000 veterans are experiencing a debilitating brain injury.

With these staggering numbers, it is apparent that there is a need for resources, and services to repay veterans for their service and sacrifice. That is why it is the mission of the Wounded Warrior Project to aid veterans who have or are serving in our nation’s military on or after September 11, 2001 and have suffered a physical or mental injury as a result.

There are a variety of programs and resources available to veterans and their families, through the Wounded Warrior Project. These programs and resources include:

Connecting to Others

Whether you are a veteran seeking support or the caregiver, Wounded Warrior Project has support groups to help you through. When you connect with others through Wounded Warrior Project, you have access to a listening ear, a helping hand and a community of supporters who are there to help you on your way to success. There are support groups, whose mission is to provide help and support to veterans and their family members and caregivers.

Mental Wellness

One out of every three veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Surprisingly, that same statistic, one out of three feel as though they do not receive the mental health that they need in order to cope. In order to address the need to meet the demand, Wounded Warrior Project, has established interactive programs, rehabilitative retreats and professional services. These programs are designed to help and enable veterans to build the resilience that they need in order to be able to overcome the many mental health challenges that many veterans encounter upon returning home.

Physical Wellness

It is not that uncommon for veterans to sustain a physical injury through their time in the service. Not all physical injuries are visible to others, some are injuries that prevent them from being physically active, getting into shape, or back and joint problems. Other physical injuries are more obvious in the form of missing limbs, confined to a wheelchair, burns, and more. Regardless of the physical injury, Wounded Warrior Project is dedicated to helping veterans realize how strong they are despite their injury and to help them see results. The goal of the Wounded Warrior Project’s physical wellness support is to help veterans eat better, feel better and sleep better. 

Career and VA Benefits Counseling

When veterans transition out of the service, it can be a challenging time with important conversations that need to be had. One conversation is that of money. While no one ever wants to worry about money or even talk about money, it is an important conversation to have prior to transitioning to civilian life. With the help of Wounded Warrior Project, they make it so that talking about money and finances is inspiring rather than depressing, by helping veterans to realize that their financial goals for the future are in fact possible. This includes learning more about the benefits that they have earned as a result of their service, how to access and get their benefits, finding a career path, or even finding a job that will help them along their career path. Wounded Warrior Project is there to help veterans, every step of the way navigating their career and VA benefits following their military service.

Personal Independence

When given the right support and resources needed, every veteran, every warrior has the ability to achieve and live a civilian life, post military service that is worth living. The Independence Program that is offered through Wounded Warrior Project, was designed to help any veteran who is suffering from a moderate-to-severe brain injury, spinal cord injury, or a neurological condition, to make and take positive steps towards living an independent life outside of the military.

Because every injury and veteran are different, Wounded Warrior Project works as a team with each veteran and their family to assess their needs, set goals and build a personalized plan that will be the most beneficial to them. Through the team of support, veterans are able to work towards gaining their independence, while families and caregivers are able to find some relief by sharing the burden of caring for their loved one. 

If you would like to contribute and help Wounded Warrior Project continue to provide these services to wounded veterans and their families, you can make a donation through the Veterans Aid Coalition campaign found on https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/veterans-aide-coalition/.  Through the generous donations that Wounded Warrior Project receives, they are able to provide all programs and resources to veterans in need, free of charge.

Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust

The mission of the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust is to empower veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. For over thirty years, the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Charitable Service Trust has been playing an instrumental role in supporting and aiding ill and injured veterans and their families. In order for DAV Charitable Service Trust to achieve their mission of helping veterans live life with dignity and respect, they provide support and work to support the needs of veterans. This is achieved through supporting physical and psychological rehabilitation programs, enhance research and mobility for veterans with spinal cord injuries and amputations, aging veterans, aids and shelters for homeless veterans and evaluates and addresses the needs of veterans wounded in recent wars. In addition to supporting the needs of veterans, DAV Charitable Service Trust also supports programs that are intended to provide resources and support to caregivers and families of ill and injured veterans.

The Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust was formed in 1986, as a way to advance programs and services that were offered to better be able to cater to our nation’s veterans, their caregivers and families. The support that the DAV Charitable Service Trust offers to different charitable organizations, helps to ensure that America is fulfilling the promises it has made to those who have made such tremendous sacrifices for national safety and security.

How it Works

Since its founding, the DAV Charitable Service Trust has led a grant program for not-for-profit organizations that provide the necessary resources to fulfill the needs of veterans. These needs include the sick, wounded, homeless, and at-risk veterans across the nation. Because often times the needs of the veterans varies depending on their specific needs and situations, DAV Charitable Service Trust provides grant funds to aid other not-for-profit organizations who can provide various resources and services to meet the needs.

agoodcause - veteran applying for a grant

According to the DAV Charitable Service Trust website, the most common grants that they distribute are used to promote food, shelter and other necessary items to veterans who are homeless or at risk-veterans, mobility items for those who have experienced vision or hearing loss or amputations, therapeutic or recreational activities, and education training. Additionally, grants have been issued to aid and support families and caregivers. DAV Charitable Service Trust does not generally provide funds to support advertising, initiatives that are affiliated with any given political party, religious group or campaign, endowment funds, pilot or newly established projects, or funds to acquire or maintain property.

How You Can Help

Every year, DAV Charitable Service Trust has funds to distribute; where they encourage qualified not-for-profit organizations to submit a detailed proposal to be considered for grant funding. Once funding has been approved, veterans and their families can benefit from the services that are available as a result of the funding provided by the DAV Charitable Service Trust.

DAV Charitable Service Trust relies on donations to make grants possible, therefore, they have made it easy for those who would like to make monetary donations. You can make donations online at https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/veterans-aide-coalition/, where all funds are distributed and used to give back to the veterans that protect our freedoms.

Veterans of Foreign Wars

The mission of Veterans of Foreign Wars is to foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts. Furthermore, their mission is to serve all veterans, the military and communities, advocating on behalf of all veterans. Along with their mission of serving veterans, the Veterans of Foreign War’s vision is to ensure that veterans are respected for their selfless service to our country, and that they always receive the entitlements that they have earned, and that veterans and their families are recognized for the sacrifices that they have made.

Veterans of Foreign Wars dates back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War of 1898 and the Philippine Insurrection in 1899-1902, got together and founded local organizations that secured their rights and benefits that they earned as a result of their service. Following these conflicts, many veterans returned home wounded or sick. At that time, there was no medical car or veterans’ pensions for them, meaning that they had to care and provide for themselves.

As a result, veterans would band together and forming organizations that ultimately became known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. The first chapters were located in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania; quickly growing to a membership today of over 1.6 million members. Since its creation, Veterans of Foreign Wars has played a pivotal role in establishing the Veterans Administration, development of the national cemetery system, fighting for the compensation of Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans who have been diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In 2008, the Veterans of Foreign Wars achieved a major victory for all veterans, by winning a long-fought battle with the passing of the GI Bill for the 21st century. This bill expanded the educational benefits to active duty service members, members of the guard and reserves who were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars has been instrumental in helping to fund the building of the Vietnam, Korean War, World War II and Women in Military Service memorials. In addition, in 2005 the Veterans of Foreign Wars contributed to the building of the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which opened in 2010. In 2015, they became the first supporters of the National Desert Storm War Memorial which will be built in Washington D.C. Aside from these accomplishments, Veterans of Foreign Wars has programs and services that work to support veterans, service members and their families.

Veterans of Foreign Wars also does a lot to help individual veterans and their families by offering a wide range of assistance programs. These programs are designed to help veterans of every generation, by providing free, professional assistance filing for VA claims, scholarships and more. No other organization does more for veterans than the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

VA Claims & Separation Benefits

When transitioning out of the military, there are many frustrations that can arise, especially when filing claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, it is a process that veterans and service members should not attempt to navigate alone. Due to the Veterans of Foreign Wars being comprised of the largest organization of combat veterans, they know how complex this process can be. Therefore, they have established the National Veterans Service (NVS), to help all veterans, service members and their families navigate this process.

The NVS has a nationwide network of VA accredited service officers and pre-discharge representatives who are expertly trained in dealing with the VA.  In fact, the VA reports that those who are represented by the Veterans of Foreign Wars have recouped $8.3 billion in earned benefits, with $1.4 billion in 2018 alone. A service officer from the Veterans of Foreign Wars can help veterans when filing for disability compensation, rehabilitation and education programs, pension and death benefits, employment and training programs.

Financial Grants

When serving in the armed forces, there are often times unforeseen challenges that veterans, service members and their families face. During this time, the Veterans of Foreign Wars believe that financial difficulties should not be one that veterans, service members or their families should have to face. This was the idea that started the Unmet Needs program, as part of Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Unmet Needs is designed to help America’s military families who encounter unexpected financial difficulties as a result of a deployment, or other military-related activity or injury. When needed, grants can be provided up to $1,500.00 to aid and assist with basic life needs, no repayment is required. To make a difficult situation even easier to bear, Unmet Needs will pay creditors directly with the grant money.

Student Veteran Support

There are many benefits available to veterans that they have earned and deserve to help them further their education. The Veterans of Foreign Wars has teamed up with Student Veterans of America to help provide assistance to veterans to gain access to their educational benefits. Working together, these two organizations are able to help veterans and service members use their GI Bill and other education benefits to help pay for their education without accruing massive amounts of student loan debt.

Mental Wellness Campaign

A shocking statistic illustrates, that 20 veterans commit suicide every single day. Veterans of Foreign Wars is committed to fighting that statistic by changing the narrative and negative stigma that surrounds mental health. In order to do this, Veterans of Foreign Wars has teamed up with other national organizations, such as, Give an Hour, The Campaign to Change Direction, One Mind, PatientsLikeMe, and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. Together, these organizations are fighting to provide resources for mental health, and provide intervention for those veterans who have been affected by invisible injuries and emotional stress as a result of their military service.

If you would like to support and make a donation to Veterans of Foreign Wars, you can make a donation at https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/veterans-aide-coalition/, where all funds are distributed to give back to America’s veterans.

Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial Fund

Located in Washington D.C., the Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial beautifully depicts the strength and vulnerability, loss and renewal of disabled veterans. Those who visit the memorial are able to learn about the lessons of courage, sacrifice, tenacity, loyalty and honor exhibited by those veterans who are disabled. The memorial is dedicated to both living and deceased veterans who serve as a reminder of the cost of freedom and human conflict. This beautiful moment, brings attention to those veterans who have sacrificed and live with a constant reminder of their service to our great nation. Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial Fund accepts donations online or via mail to help disabled veterans across the nation.

How You Can Help

There is a need to help veterans across the country who have given so much and sacrificed so that we may continue to live in a free country. Thanks to organizations such as Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled Veterans Charitable Service Trust and others, veterans are able to have access to resources that help them transition to civilian life and cope with the effects of conflict.

It is important to remember that while a lot of these organizations get attention due to the fact that they help veterans who suffer from mental illness or physical disabilities as a result of their military service, this does not represent veterans as a whole. There are many veterans who are the lucky ones, returning home with no major side-effects, yet still benefit from these organizations and the programs that they offer.

Monetary donations make it possible for these organizations to continue to provide services and resources to veterans and service members. If you would like to donate, you can make a donation at https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/veterans-aide-coalition/ and help to make a difference by giving back to the veterans who serve and sacrifice to protect our freedoms. All donations made via A Good Cause will go directly to charities and organizations whose mission it is to support the physical and psychological rehabilitation of veterans and their families.

Author: Ashley Christensen

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veteran

https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/programs

http://www.vfw.org/

https://avdlm.org/

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