How to Help Veterans During the Holidays

During the holiday or Christmas season there are many ways to help veterans through what may be challenging times or simply don’t have any family bond with during the holiday season.  You can assist veterans who serve, honor, and protect by volunteering your time, donating or simply by making a cash contribution to worthy cause.  Here are some of the many ways you can reach out and make a difference to a veteran during this holiday season.

Call a local USO branch or area armed services recruiter for a program list select to donate to.

Help specific groups of veterans such as disabled or injured veterans, homeless veterans or veterans in need of employment.

Veterans Bike Ride
Photo By: Lance Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera

Contact a local Veterans Association residential home or hospital. Often times there are multiple older vets who either are hospitalized or residing within residential centers without anybody to keep them company within the holidays. Most of these centers possess fundraisers where you can help. Contact them and check how you can best provide your service and time.

Reach out to local military hospitals where disabled vets are in recovery. Typically there are pre-determined lists consisting of typical things which soldiers want to aid in their recovery such as CDs, MP3 players, gloves, video DVD’s, cookies, socks and much more.

Knit a vet or an additional serviceman a lap blanket or quilt for usage at a convalescence.

Donate your used car.

Pick up the phone and call a local Veterans organization and ask how you can help this holiday season.

Ways to Help a Veteran

  • Adopt-a-Veteran – The programs such as the Elk Lodge’s program are targeted toward any veterans that are lonely or isolated. Veterans in VA hospitals, assisted care homes, community living center, retirement homes, homeless and transitional shelters, and hospital domiciliary programs are all eligible.
  • Corporate Matching Gifts – Check to see if your employer matches your donation
    • Check with your human resources, employee benefits office or community relations office
    • Request an Employee Matching Gift form
    • Verify the veterans charity you’d like to donate to is eligible
  • Combined Federal Campaign –  Pledges made by Federal civilian, postal and military donors during the campaign season (September 1st to December 15th) support eligible non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world.
  • Monetarily
  • Planned Giving – Wills, Trusts, Charitable Gift Annuities
  • Organize a fundraiser
  • Volunteer
  • Donate the Following
    • Airline/Hotel and Credit Card points/miles
    • Bonds or Stocks
    • Car
    • Clothing
    • Entertainment tickets
    • Furniture
    • Household items
    • Toys

List of Veterans Charities and Organizations for the Holiday Season

  • American Legion
  • Cars for Veterans – Car donations help fund programs
  • Disabled American Veteran (DAV) – Assists disabled veterans, veterans, their families, their widowed spouses
  • Elks Lodge – Dedicated Elks volunteers put their passion for serving veterans into action through through many veterans programs including Adopt-A-Veteran, Freedom grants, VA voluntary service and more.
  • Help our Wounded –  Delivers much needed support, direction and assistance to the caregivers of seriously wounded soldiers and the troops themselves
  • Honor Flight
  • Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America – IAVA leads the charge on combating veteran suicide, improving support for female veterans, ending the VA disability claims backlog, and defending veterans’ education benefits.
  • Operation Home Front – Helps the families of service members and wounded warriors
  • National Coalition for Homeless Veterans – Assists veterans in crisis.
  • Red Cross – Services for Veterans.
  • Salvation Army – For services in your area, contact your local Salvation Army.
  • Semper Fi Fund – The Semper Fi Fund, and its program America’s Fund, provide immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post 9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families, ensuring that they have the resources they need during their recovery and transition back to their communities
  • Soldiers Angels – This program assists patients at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers. This support can range from visiting patients to providing comfort items (like blankets and quilts) and clothing, to sponsoring special events like BBQs or assisting VA facilities with large-scale efforts to improve in-patients’ quality of life.
  • VA Search – Find local VA hospitals and more
  • VA Volunteer Services – Volunteer or donate your time to the VA Voluntary Service
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars – The VFW offers a wide range of assistance programs aimed at helping veterans.
  • Vets Christmas Ride
  • USO

Other Considerations

Please schedule time with these charities and don’t just show up unannounced.  These charities and organizations appreciate all methods of support but need to stay organized at the same time in order to support these vets.  Always contact the organization ahead of time and ask how you can best provide support to the vets.

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10 Veterans Benefits You May Not Know About

Many veterans know about the basic health care and education benefits available to them through the Department of Veterans Affairs: Tricare and the GI Bill.­­­ While these benefits alone are substantial, numerous other programs help provide more benefits to veterans and their families. Even within the health care and education programs are little-known benefits to improve the lives of veterans and help ease the financial burden of medical care or other expenses. Here are 10 veterans benefits you haven’t heard about that all veterans should see if they qualify for.

1.     Long-term Care
Long-term care is expensive, but often necessary to provide care for aging relatives. Through the Aid and Attendance program, many veterans are eligible to receive money to cover the cost of nursing homes, assisted living programs and other long-term care options. With the ability for couples to receive up to $25,020 a year, the Aid & Attendance benefit will help take care of a significant portion of long-term care costs. Surviving spouses of veterans are also eligible to receive up to $13,560 a year to cover their long-term care costs.

2.     Caregiver Support
Should you choose to take care of an ailing Veteran at home, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers a caregiver support program. While this program does not offer any monetary support to caregivers, they are provided with a free support line and a caregiver support coordinator to help navigate military benefits and the stress of care giving.

3.     Death Benefits
When a veteran dies, families have a few unique benefits available to them. A U.S. flag may be requested to drape over the casket and families may request a Presidential Memorial Certificate to honor the deceased loved ones service. The Department of Veterans Affairs also provides free headstones or grave markers.

4.     Certification Programs
In addition to receiving credits to use toward a college degree, the GI Bill offers up to $2,000 to help cover the cost of certification courses or other vocational training programs. This benefit will work well for veterans who wish to change careers or pursue a career path that does not require a college degree.

5.    Transferring GI Bill® Credits
Unused credits through the GI Bill may be transferred to spouses and dependents of veterans. There are service limits required to transfer the benefits.

6.    Free Tax Preparation
Veterans and their family have access to free tax preparation services through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance offices on military bases. The individuals who work in the offices have expertise working with the complicated nature of military-related tax issues.

7.    Life Insurance
Many veterans have trouble obtaining traditional life insurance, particularly if they sustained an injury during their time of service. Through the Servicemembers’ and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance program, veterans may receive up to $400,000 in life insurance. This program also offers competitive premium rates.

8.    Mortgage Help
Veterans having trouble making their mortgage payments are eligible for repayment assistance through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Options for help include special repayment plans, loan forbearance and loan modification programs. Additional benefits are available for veterans with VA loans and for homeless veterans.

9.    VA Foreclosures
The VA maintains a list of homes serviced by VA loans that have gone into foreclosures. Veterans have the ability to search the list of VA acquired properties and purchase homes at a discount. You do not have to be a veteran to search the properties, but all properties qualify for VA financing.

10.    American Corporate Partners
American Corporate Partners connects veterans with top companies to help them obtain a job after their time of service. Along with being connected to job opportunities, veterans have the opportunity to receive one-on-one mentoring and other career development services.

FAQ

How do I get life insurance as discussed above?

Visit the VA’s Servicemembers’ & Veterans’ Group Life Insurance website. It provides everything you need to know.

1. Long-term Care, – “With the ability for couples to receive up to $25,020 a year, the pension;” does pension here mean a Vet must be receiving a military pension to be eligible for this benefit?

You must establish eligibility for basic VA pension first. However, this enhanced pension is based on a higher income limit so even if you’re not eligible for the VA basic pension you may still be eligible the the A & A program. The VA Pension for Veterans programs is a benefit paid to wartime Veterans who have limited or no income, and who are age 65 or older, or, under 65, and are permanently and totally disabled, or, a patient in a nursing home, or, are receiving Social Security disability payments.

Who should be contacted in regards to American Corporate Partners for job employment / training?

Here is the American Corporate Partners website link to contact them.

How can you acquire a list of VA Foreclosed homes & properties?

Find local Veterans Affairs offices here.
After the VA acquires a foreclosed property they are added to the local Multiple Listing Systems or MLS which local veterans affairs offices and/or real estate agents have access to.

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