(BPT) - There are 18.8 million veterans in the U.S., according to the most recent U.S. Census. More than 9 million are seeking treatment at their local U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs medical center, and more than 39,000 are homeless on any given night, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
There are many ways to help a veteran in need. Below are a few suggestions on how you can make a difference in a veteran's life this year.
Tie your passion to your action.
We all have passions that bring us joy. There are many ways that suit your interests to give back while helping veterans in need. For example, do you like to spend time outdoors? Many organizations host volunteer activities like cleaning a veterans memorial in the community. Are you more of a people person? Give your time to a local veterans facility to connect with a resident in need of company.
Reach out to a veteran service organization to learn more.
The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA), The American Legion and Sons of The American Legion are actively involved in veteran causes with local units across the U.S. They offer community through memberships, organize and hold volunteer events throughout the year. As a first step, visit the websites of each organization and look for a unit close to you. Meeting with these organizations or others can kick-start your efforts to get involved with the veteran community.
Donate a day of service.
Everyday life can get messy with full-time jobs and commitments. One way to identify free time for charitable activities is to use a day off engaging in community service. 'Donate' your Memorial Day to help the ALA distribute handmade poppies that support veterans in local hospitals, visit a veterans facility or deliver a meal or care package.
Give a gift.
Extend your thankfulness to the veteran community by making a gift. Mark your calendar for Nov. 27, 2018, when you can participate in #GivingTuesday, a global giving movement, by making a monetary donation to an organization that dedicates its efforts to helping veterans. Whether you come together as a family, a company, a community or by yourself, a donation can make a real difference.
Helping a veteran can be a year-long commitment or a one-day activity. To learn more about how to take the first step, visit www.ALAforVeterans.org.