Memorial Day: Honoring and Helping Vets

Memorial Day isn’t only the kickoff to summer, it’s also a time to thank those who fought and died for our country.

But for some veterans, there may not be much cause for celebration.

We hear of far too many mental, emotional and physical problems among the men and women who have served the United States. According to The Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that helps veterans and their families, crucial issues facing veterans include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); depression and anxiety.

Additionally, many veterans have suffered traumatic brain injuries or have lost limbs or their sight. Some find themselves unemployed or even homeless.

To help vets facing these issues, the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a program to develop assistive technologies for veterans. The agency is also undertaking a 50-city campaign, the Veterans Economic Communities Initiative, to promote economic success for veterans via private employers and government agencies.

Private and government efforts are having some success: According to the nonprofit National Organization to End Homelessness, the number of homeless veterans has dropped 33 percent since 2010 thanks to programs focused on finding housing and providing support services.

But there are many things ordinary citizens can do as well to both help and thank veterans. According to the Behavioral Health Staff from the Spokane, WA , VA Medical Center, things you can do on Memorial Day, or any day of the year, include:

Asking a veteran about their time in the military, and really listen to the answer.

Visiting the gravesite of a veteran.

Writing a letter to someone who’s currently serving in the military .

Learning about a current or past war/conflict (this will make you a better helper).

Donating time, money or supplies to local drives for veterans.

For a list of toll-free numbers to help vets and their families, click here. To learn more about programs from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, click here.

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