Veterans are naturally on our minds at this time of year, particularly with the annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade right around the corner.
If you have it in your heart to help and honor our veterans, now or at any time of the year, there are many ways you can do that.
The Phoenix Veteran’s Day Parade (PhoenixVeteransDayParade.org) is scheduled for Saturday, November 11, from 11 a.m. until approximately 1 p.m. in downtown Phoenix. The entire operation relies solely on volunteers and is a great way to honor veterans. This year leading the volunteer effort is the University of Phoenix. Volunteer Coordinator Brian Ishmael, who serves as Senior Director of Military and Veterans Affairs at University of Phoenix, has been busy managing and developing position descriptions, recruiting volunteers from various organizations and businesses and attending parade team meetings in person. The parade will need about 300 volunteers to assist in several functions, so he’s asked his colleague Jessica Hutson to help. Jessica is busy gathering names, emails and phone numbers of volunteers to fill the slots. If you’re just now seeing this and want to help, it’s not too late to reach out to her; just email email@example.com.
Another way to help is by volunteering with or donating to Honoring Arizona’s Veterans (HAV), the organization presenting the annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade. The HAV was formed to help Arizona’s veterans heal and reintegrate through recognition events and other programs that support the mission.
Of course, you can always say “thank you.” It is simple but makes an impact. Many veterans never heard those words. If you know a veteran or see someone in a military uniform, express your gratitude. It may make his or her day – and yours.
Here are some other ways you could help a veteran:
- Offer your home repair skills to a veteran or military family in need.
- Volunteer your financial, legal, or career expertise via MilServe.
- Deliver a meal or care packages to veterans – or donate clothing, household items, vehicles and much-needed funs – through certified organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA).
- Help a veteran tell their story through a project such as the Veteran’s History Project. (You can download a VHP field kit from the Library of Congress website.)
- Volunteers with an organization that provides therapy dogs to veterans, such as Canine Companions for Independence.
- Support the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), which provides free transportation to men and women unable to travel to VA medical facilities on their own.
- Send a letter or care package through Operation Gratitude, which serves both current military members as well as veterans. It has a letter-writing campaign encouraging everyone to write handwritten letters of gratitude to veterans.
- The Honor Flight Network helps veterans of the “greatest generation” make a free pilgrimage to the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington. You can volunteer to escort these men and women on the flight. The program also helps terminally ill veterans who served in any conflict visit memorials to those wars in Washington as well.
- Hire a veteran! Several organizations match employers with qualified veterans. The S. Department of Labor’s website is one example, and the nonprofit Hire Heroes USA offers opportunities for people to donate, volunteer or host a fundraiser.
Did you know that an estimated 40,000 veterans go homeless on any given night in the U.S.? That is according to a report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and that number does not include the 1.4 million or so vets who are at risk of homelessness, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
You can help those heroes get back on their feet by volunteering, donating or even hiring a veteran. Sign up through the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service page. Shelters are always in need of personal care items and clothing. To locate a service organization near you, refer to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans’ website, which provides an interactive map of local shelters and community centers. You can also call 1-800-VET-HELP. (You can refer to websites like Charity Watch and Charity Navigator for ratings on organizations’ contributions and expenses.)
If you are a veteran in need of help or if you are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless – contact either the VA medical center or Community Resource and Referral Center. You can also call 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838).