UNITED STATES—Charity volunteers have so far played a critical role in raising awareness of disabled veterans’ problems adjusting to civilian life. Volunteers have also been crucial in helping military vets cope with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Choosing the Right Volunteer Strategy
Some volunteers prefer the structured environment of helping in highly organized charities. In contrast, others prefer the benefits of helping individual veterans one-on-one to get a deeper understanding of each veteran’s pain. Regardless of what type of volunteer activity you prefer, the following recommendations can prove invaluable when choosing the right volunteer opportunity.
1. DAV Thrift Operations
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) operates nationwide, and their thrift stores give aid to more than one million recipients, including disabled veterans and their families. The organization provides health care, disability benefits, jobs, and education. The organization actively recruits and accepts volunteers to run the shops and support veterans with physical and mental disabilities.
As an added incentive for volunteers to make a difference, DAV is celebrating its 100th anniversary by launching the “100 Acts of Honor” challenge. Volunteers and staff members compete to accomplish 100 community-service acts to assist disabled veterans, and the participants share their experiences on social media under the hashtag #100ActsofHonor.
2. Choosing Specific Activities to Assist Veterans
There are many services needed by veterans, and volunteers can choose from the following activities:
- Providing transportation to and from medical appointments, grocery stores, and other destinations
- Mowing the lawn and doing other maintenance jobs
- Shopping for groceries for disabled vets
- Preparing nutritious meals.
You can check on volunteer opportunities by the state at the DAV, or browse for volunteers needed at other charities, community-sponsored events, and unique, one-time-only fundraisers.
3. Military-Sponsored Volunteers Board Service Member’s Pets
There is no greater calling than giving back to those who selflessly defended the country from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Volunteers enjoy military camaraderie as expressed eloquently by the Marine slogan: “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.”
Dogs on Deployment was founded on the principle that a well-loved pet shouldn’t be shuttled to a shelter just because its owner had to deploy. Volunteers in the program agree to board veterans’ pets safely. Although Dogs on Deployment is not a charity that benefits disabled veterans, active duty service members deserve equal support.
4. Helping Out Informally One Case at a Time
Maybe you see a homeless veteran panhandling daily in a regular spot, or you might know a veteran in the neighborhood who is experiencing difficulties. Volunteers’ work doesn’t have to be formal, and you shouldn’t approach volunteerism as a self-serving resume builder.
Help out where you can by helping a veteran apply for a job or social services. Buy a homeless vet a good meal or help with cash if it seems the veteran is trying hard to make ends meet and is not using the money for substance abuse.
5. Volunteering for Nonprofit Veterans’ Charities
One of the biggest problems inexperienced volunteers face is choosing a legitimate charity for volunteer work. There are many scammers out there, which include telemarketing charities that sell trash bags and light bulbs to raise funds for disabled veterans who only receive 10 percent of the proceeds.
The greatnonprofits.org website lists veterans’ charities that receive top ratings, so you don’t have to worry that your volunteer efforts are misguided. You can compare charity ratings and read reviews before you volunteer or donate money to a veterans’ charity.
Veterans Who Receive Disability Benefits
Veterans are often judged by whether they receive VA Physical Disability Benefits, but some mentally disabled veterans don’t bother filing for disability. Others going through a tough period of stress and unemployment refuse to surrender their dignity to seek what they consider to be charity. Self-sufficiency is a trait that is heavily cultivated in the military.
You could talk one such vet into applying for disability benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Consulting with an attorney is usually a critical step when applying for the benefits veterans have earned with their blood, sweat, tears, and toil because only an attorney can help them build a strong case to get the monthly payments they are due.
Also, consider working with an attorney if the vet’s application was rejected, they were required a discharge upgrade to apply, or they want to file an appeal. Check out the link to read more about the VA physical disability benefits disabled vets are entitled to.
Crystal A. Davis was born into a family of attorneys and was raised with a strong sense of justice. During her high school years, she developed a passion for journalism and decided to combine this with her knowledge of the law. She realized that she can make her voice heard to the masses through legal journalism. Crystal is honored to follow and report on any legal case. She shares her analysis in reader-friendly articles. However, over the years, she has become a strong advocate for VA rights and made it her mission to help veterans seek justice.