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Three Ways To Support Our Veterans That You Can Do All Year

american flag photoToday is Veterans Day so here are some ways we can help the 23 million living Veterans in the U.S.:

1. Write A Letter

There are many campaigns out there, but I’m going to pick Operation Gratitude because they are a non-profit with 97% of fundraising going to Program Services and only 2.6% going to administrative costs. Here are a few ways to be a part of the Operation Gratitude letter writing campaign:

If you know a veteran who would like to receive a letter of thanks, you can submit his or her name, mailing address and war served in to Penny Alfonso at: [email protected]

You can write a letter of gratitude to a veteran (just modify your Facebook status to pen, paper and relevancy). The instructions are listed on their website, but I’ve also put them below (and I know many of you will appreciate #4):

Instructions:

1. Please make sure your letters will fit in a standard size envelope; please avoid using greeting cards as they will not fit.
2. Include your own name and address in the body of the letter.
3. Do not write about politics, religion, death or killing.
4. Please do not use glitter.
5. This is strictly a letter-writing effort to thank Veterans; please do not send any care package items for Veterans.
6. All letters will be screened.
7. Send multiple letters together in one large mailing envelope or box.

Please send as many letters (or copies with original signature) as you would like by regular mail only to:
Thank a Veteran
c/o Penny Alfonso
1970 Rangeview Drive
Glendale, CA 91201

I urge you to go to Operation Gratitude’s site to read the letters of thanks from veterans and find more ways to help such as the wounded warriors program.

2. Say Thank You

When we see a person in uniform, I encourage my children to walk over with me and say thank you. I want my children to appreciate the individuals in the military regardless of how we feel about our engagements as a whole. It is in this distinction where I believe American patriotism lives.

3. Be More Than A Bumper Sticker

Of course, all these thank yous mean nothing if the veteran has no address, or when they walk up to a “Support The Troops” bumper-stickered car in tattered clothes and dirty hair, you keep your window closed.

While 7% of the general population are veterans, 10-13% of the homeless population are veterans, and that’s not including the 1.4 million veterans at-risk for homelessness. While the number of homeless veterans are declining due in part to housing vouchers, rental assistance, mental illness and substance abuse treatments and other supports put in place by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs, it’s important to remember that when there’s a proposal for subsidized housing in your neighborhood, think about who it is going to help before you vote “no” and make plans to attend a Veterans Day parade.

If you know a veteran who is at risk or is homeless, the VA has a toll-free, 24 hour/day hotline as a part of their efforts to decrease veteran homelessness: 877-4AID-VET

There are many more policy decisions both local and national that make a difference, and whenever we vote, we are deciding who will create more veterans and why, and if we will take care of them when they come back to home.

I hope you will continue to make thoughtful choices throughout the year as we honor our veterans today.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

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