On Monday, May 25, people across the nation will honor the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country. They will also honor the many veterans who continue to carry the physical and/or emotional memories of their service.
Although some choose to honor servicemen and women with parades and by placing flowers on the graves of the fallen, donating to organizations that provide support to veterans is one of the best ways to honor both the dead and the living. Consider these five charities:
- VFW Buddy Poppy Program (www.vfw.org): The red poppy has been a symbol of veterans since 1915 when American professor Moina Michaels wrote about them with valor and remembrance of the fallen in a poem. Michaels then sold silk poppies to help raise funds for disabled servicemen.
Her idea eventually spread across Europe, where it was used to raise funds for widows and children of servicemen. In time, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), a well-known veterans’ organization started in 1899, was approached to assist in 1922. The VFW has been selling artificial poppies assembled by disabled servicemen ever since to raise funds for the wages of those who make the poppies, the VFW National Home for Children, and state and federal veteran service and rehabilitation programs.
If you don’t have a lot of money to donate, purchasing even a single poppy will help veterans and others in need.
- United Service Organizations (www.uso.org): Like the VFW, the United Service Organizations (USO) is a well-known organization. Although it primarily helps to provide morale and support to current soldiers here and abroad, organizations that originally founded it, such as the Salvation Army, provide direct support to veterans here at home.
The USO as its own entity also provides support to wounded, injured, and ill soldiers and their caregivers, reclamation and other services to recovering soldiers, and works with partnered organizations such as Hire Warriors USA to aid veterans with finding jobs.
- Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Charitable Service Trust (http://cst.dav.org): The DAV Charitable Service Trust was established in 1986 by the Disabled American Veterans National Organization to support “physical and psychological rehabilitation programs that provide direct service to ill, injured, or wounded veterans.” Donations help severely injured and wounded veterans, including those suffering from substance abuse, PTSD, and traumatic brain injuries, live better lives through treatment programs.
- Puppies Behind Bars (www.puppiesbehindbars.com): Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) is a fantastic choice for pet owners who wish to donate to a veteran charity. Founded in 1997, PBB helps train inmates at prisons to raise service dogs for wounded veterans. They also raise bomb detection dogs for US law enforcement.
Veterans who need service dog assistance are not only able to find help, but PBB also handles all of the associated costs. Veterans don’t purchase their own dogs. Instead, PBB pays them to receive training with chosen dogs in its upstate New York facility and even pays for the cost of their travel. Additionally, the program provides prisoners with new skills while also helping them to socialize in a positive manner while giving back to society.
- Hope for the Warriors (www.hopeforthewarriors.org): Hope for the Warriors is much younger than the other charities listed, but it represents the same fantastic values. The wives of servicemen who saw that veterans, current soldiers, and their families needed a wide range of physical and mental health, financial, and family support services founded the organization in 2006. Donations support programs that help with health and wellness, transition, and connecting servicemen and women and their families with community resources and peer engagement.