How To Be More Supportive of Vets on Veterans Day
Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day, although the two holidays are frequently mistaken for one another. Veterans Day is intended to honor all living veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces in war or peace, and to recognize the sacrifices they have made. Memorial Day, on the other hand, is intended to commemorate those who gave their lives for our country. Perhaps, instead of honoring veterans for only one day a year, we could be more compassionate and supportive about the experiences they continue to have as a result of war all year. Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is just one of these.
According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, as many as 20 of every hundred veterans, or between 11 to 20 percent, who have served in wars — such as Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Gulf War, and the Vietnam War — suffer with PTSD.
PTSD is a mental health condition that some people develop after either experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event — such as war, a car accident, or sexual assault. Characteristics of PTSD include upsetting memories, trouble sleeping, feeling on edge, struggling to enjoy everyday activities, or having an extreme response to a trigger. It can also affect the ability to parent, be a partner, and express feelings and emotions to loved ones. In a family unit, this can increase tension and put a strain on relationships.
Veterans who suffer with PTSD can become isolated and struggle to integrate back into everyday life, which is why it’s critical that they have the support of family and friends. While PTSD may change your relationship with your loved one, there are ways you can be understanding and supportive.
- Familiarize yourself with PTSD and the treatment options available.
- Encourage them to get medical care.
- Ensure that you take care of yourself so that you can be there for your loved one.
But even if a veteran doesn’t have PTSD, we can still show them acts of kindness on Veterans Day and throughout the year.
- Consider visiting a veteran who is recovering in the hospital. Even better, you could take your children with you to teach them about the great sacrifices of those who serve our country. Not every veteran has a partner or family to support them. When recovering from an injury, it can be incredibly lonely sitting in a hospital unable to get out. You can also volunteer at your local VA Hospital.
- Send a care package to veterans who are out of the country on active duty. This act of kindness can help a veteran surviving in a stressful environment by giving them some home comforts. Groups that help organize these packages include Operation Gratitude, Operation Shoebox, and Hero Box.
- Pick up the tab for their meal or coffee if you see them in line at a coffee shop or restaurant. Include a note thanking them for their service.
- Drive a vet to a doctor’s appointment. Many vets, especially those who are no longer able-bodied, may not have transportation. You can volunteer at the Department of Veterans Affairs Transportation Network by contacting your local hospital coordinator.
- Volunteer your time to the Veterans Assistance Program. Many vets struggle to do physical labor or even run errands. You can get in touch with your local Veterans Assistance Program to see how you can be of assistance.
- Replace a light bulb with a green one. Greenlight A Vet is a campaign to establish a visible national network of support for veterans. Purchasing a green light bulb and placing it somewhere visible in your home is said to act as a symbol of support and appreciation for veterans. To date, more than 9 million Americans have bought these bulbs to show support for vets.
- Help with job training. Returning to life as a civilian can be challenging. Some organizations, such as Hire Heroes, help veterans with the skills they need to return to work. These can include interview skills, resume writing, and specific job training. You can offer your time to Hire Heroes to help with career counseling and job searching.
For those who dedicate their lives to our safety and protection, the least we can do is offer some of our time and support in return.
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