They put their lives on the line in service to our country. On Memorial Day, we pay tribute to the men and women of our armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice. But in addition to honoring those who've gone before us, the holiday is also a perfect opportunity to pay tribute to veterans and their families. Here are a few ideas you can put into practice, and ways to make an impact all year round.
Head for the Capitol. Or make a difference at home.
The National Memorial Day Parade is an annual event in our nation’s capital. Veterans and organizations interested in participating in the event can download an application or request additional information from the American Veterans Center. Here, you can also read and submit veterans’ stories. And if you know a youngster who might be interested in interning, they can find more information, here. If you’re not planning a trip to DC in May, but would like to help out at home, you can find Memorial Day activities in your community by reaching out to your local VFW post.
Help a vet get from point A to point B.
You could make a veteran’s day this Memorial Day, or any time of year, by teaming up with DAV to give rides to service members in need. DAV operates a fleet of vehicles throughout the country providing free medical transportation to VA facilities. You can volunteer to drive a van, or help in a number of different ways by searching opportunities on their site. Sometimes the next destination for a vet is a well-suited job, and as a volunteer with Hire Heroes USA, you can assist with mock interviews, career counseling, outreach and more. And if you personally know a veteran who’s searching for work, you can also help them find opportunities at va.gov.
Imagine new ways to say, “Welcome Home.”
Transitioning from a lengthy, overseas deployment to civilian life comes with multiple hurdles, and even the most rugged veterans sometimes need a helping hand. The IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) has compiled a robust resource for returning vets. You can help a returning serviceperson access one-on-one support, and if you represent a business or outreach organization looking to make a difference, IAVA has partnership opportunities as well. If you know a veteran who has suffered a traumatic brain injury or is struggling with PTSD, you can suggest the free resources available through the Wounded Warrior Project. Or take an active role by coordinating or participating in one of their 5k races, or any number of different activities sponsored by the organization.
Find more opportunities, ideas and inspiration, use this simple volunteer search and enter keywords “military” or “veterans.”
This Father's Day, make (any) dad proud
Check out these ideas and links for inspiration, and make a difference for a dad you know - or one you've never met!