The service members and veterans in your life may need assistance in securing a new home, finding resources, and locating medical and mental health services. Consider the five ways below in which you can help an active-duty service member or a veteran in your life in practical ways.
1. Assist in Finding a Place to Live
Service members and their families may live on a military base or close by, and they may know people who can help them secure short-term or long-term housing. New veterans, especially if they came of age during their service years, may be clueless when buying their first home. Direct your friend or relative to the Department of Veterans Affairs to secure a VA home loan, which allows veterans to purchase a home without a down payment or mortgage insurance.
2. Research Schools for Service Members’ Children
Moving is a common occurrence in military families’ lives, and the feeling of constantly being uprooted can be stressful for both parents and children. Your friend or family member in the military or his or her spouse may need help determining which schools to consider for their children and which ones to rule out. The kids may also need back-to-school resources and supplies if they have moved suddenly.
3. Help Identify the Ideal Civilian Job for a Veteran
Young veterans may leave the military as part of a long-term plan, or they may be forced to go when they are abruptly disabled. Help the new veteran in your life by discussing potential career paths and locating jobs to apply for. One person who has worked in an office-related position may transition well to an administrative role, while another may want to take advantage of an online master’s degree program in information technology with the goal of working in an IT field.
4. Direct Loved Ones to Counseling or Medical Assistance
Service members often persist through severe mental health issues, and veterans often feel they are on their own when dealing with anxiety, depression, addiction, and severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans with physical disabilities often struggle to find appropriate medical treatment as well. Do your best to learn about these conditions and help your friend or family member find care.
5. Be There to Listen
At times, a person in the military may want to speak about thoughts and feelings related to service, the stress of moving, or the complications that come from being in a military family. Older veterans may want a friend or companion to talk to. At times like these, the best action you can take is paying attention and being part of his or her support system. Resist the urge to fix, help or redirect someone who simply needs a listening ear. Let your loved one know that he or she can ask for help, and practice empathic listening to better understand this person’s needs.
While you may have never served in the military, knowing someone who has can be an immense source of pride and excitement in your life. Help the service members and recent veterans you are close to get the most out of their lives by assisting them in planning for the future and locating practical necessities to make their everyday lives run more efficiently.
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By Erin Reynolds
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