‘Thank you for serving’ and beyond: Be a volunteer for veterans
December 18, 2015 0 Comments
Abraham Lincoln once wrote, “Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause.” Those who have fought for America or are fighting currently, may need help and support transitioning back home and into a new routine. Individuals and families can offer such support.
In the aftermath
Adjusting to a new life after military service can be difficult for veterans. Along with attempting to find a new normal, many veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The National Institute of Health finds around 31 percent of Vietnam veterans, 10 percent of Gulf War veterans, 11 percent of Afghanistan veterans and 20 percent of Iraqi War veterans to be afflicted with PTSD.
An individual who has experienced a traumatic event, may be haunted by it daily. A veteran may hear noise from a construction site and be reminded of the battlefield or being at war. The Mayo Clinic explains how symptoms for PTSD can appear immediately following a traumatic experience or, “May not appear until years after the event.”
PTSD is not the only mental illness veterans can experience, as they can also struggle with depression, anxiety or traumatic brain injury. The veteran’s mental condition can make finding a substantial job, supporting themselves and socializing with others more difficult. While volunteers may not be able to treat the mental illness, there are various organizations supporting veterans in need.
Return the favor
Volunteering may not have a grand impact on society but can have an important impact on those who need support. The Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism offers several programs for volunteers to help serve and honor veterans.
The American Legion Auxiliary offers a plethora of short and long term opportunities for service. One such opportunity is the Poppy Program, distributing paper poppy flowers, “Across the country in exchange for donations that go directly to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans in our communities.” Veterans primarily construct these paper flowers as part of their treatment and rehabilitation. Volunteers of any age can give their time to help craft if demand is high, distribute flowers and collect donations.
Out of the numerous organizations offering support to military veterans, The American Red Cross operates The Service to Armed Forces Program. This program supports active duty military members, their families and veterans. This program has a variety of groups and movements for volunteers of all ages, including available internships.
The American Red Cross offers three levels of support through the armed forces program:
- Emergency services
- Service to military families
- Service to military veterans
Volunteers will be placed in services depending on their skills and do not have to enter a service they are uncomfortable with. These services are not designed to be treatment for any mental illnesses in military veterans or personnel. The services are to help a veteran currently in treatment or struggling with everyday life.
The volunteer opportunities to help veterans can also grant students scholarships and volunteer credits. These are only a few of the possible volunteer opportunities to aid and honor veterans dealing with a traumatic past.
Volunteering for a cause can get an individual involved with the community and build character. White River Academy provides treatment and care for troubled boys from ages 12 to 17. The academy follows a boarding school format, offering guidance through a disciplined education program and instilling character values through service projects to promote positive growth. For more information or to register, feel free to call our 24/7 helpline.