(BPT) - It seems as though there's a lot of disagreement in our country these days. Political parties not only argue with each other, but they also fight within their ranks. Turn on the news and bickering is everywhere. Click on any internet story and you'll read through pages of angry comments.
Despite all the noise, however, Americans truly are more united than divided. And one of the issues that unites all kinds of Americans is supporting our veterans. In fact, it's part of a long tradition that goes back to the founding fathers, and there are plenty of ways you can reach out and show your appreciation as well.
- A tradition of honoring heroism.In 1782, George Washington issued orders to honor soldiers who showed exceptional distinction by awarding them the Badge of Military Merit. Now called the Purple Heart, it's given to men and women in uniform who have been injured or killed in combat or captivity. As the oldest medal currently in use, over 1.7 million have received the honor.
- Ordinary people giving. Millions of Americans have shown their support for veterans by donating their time and financial support to organizations such as the Purple Heart Foundation. This organization supports veterans and their families with many nationwide programs. They rely on ordinary Americans to volunteer and provide financial assistance to continue these important services.
- Investing in veterans.After the unemployment rate for veterans peaked at over 15 percent in 2011, Americans responded. Major companies like Walmart, Amazon and Uber have all pledged to hire thousands of veterans. Voters put pressure on their representatives to enact The Returning Hero's Tax Credit, which gives companies incentives to hire vets. As a result, the unemployment rate among veterans has been halved.
- Helping vets tell their story.A highly effective way to help vets reconnect with people and get a hold of the confusing emotions they experience when coming home is to allow them to tell their story. Many organizations, colleges and community groups have set up programs that teach veterans the skills they need to find their voice and tell their story.
- Professionals volunteering their time.All wondering how they can help, thousands of professionals such as lawyers, accountants and career coaches have reached out to volunteer their time. Because free legal and financial advice is invaluable to help veterans navigate the world they return to, this kind of assistance is incredibly important.
Inspired by the outpouring of support, many Americans wonder what they can do to help. Veterans organizations like the Purple Heart Foundation provide emotional, physical, educational and financial support for veterans and their families. In addition, the Purple Heart Foundation gives people the opportunity to volunteer, donate their vehicles or household items, or make cash contributions as a way of thanking veterans for the sacrifice they made. To learn more, visit purpleheartfoundation.org.