Veterans are an extremely diverse group of people who may have had radically different experiences of service across branches and generations. Yet one all-too-common characteristic that veterans might share are scars that remain largely invisible and silent: PTSD.
With the suicide rate as yet unabated since the first formal report on the issue was released in 2012, civilians can work to bridge the gap left by underfunded VA government services. Average people can work quietly to support veterans in various ways, including with housing assistance, health care matters, job facilitation, and support networks.
As the price of housing skyrockets in many parts of the country, retired and disabled veterans can find themselves unable to make ends meet with VA benefits. If people identify as veterans on a rental application, civilians can be ready to provide assistance that prevents them from becoming one of the more than 38,000 veterans who become homeless annually. In addition to government programs such as rental vouchers through VASH, several local or state level programs are run by veteran support group.
All across the country, groups such as Veterans Community Project have popped up to find land, donations, and volunteers to build Tiny Homes for homeless veterans. This gives them access not only to the stability and safety of a roof over their heads, but a permanent location to receive much needed medical and support services, such as regular treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Medical and support services
Likely because of extensive training while in active duty, veterans seem to be the most likely to suffer in silence, to do without, and to put others’ needs before their own. When they return home, they simply may not ask for the help they need, or they may not be aware that so many organizations are dedicated to their health and wellness. For disabled veterans, back and knee problems and amputations can present the biggest challenges, and in many cases, physical ailments compound the effects of PTSD.
Amputees have several ways to receive assistance beyond what the VA may provide. The Given Limb Foundation is one organization dedicated to helping disabled veterans achieve mobility after service. The Wounded Warrior Project and Soldier’s Wish are important organizations with outreach to veterans and help for amputees. In addition to prosthetic devices, which can be pricey, veterans need other accessories as well, such as silicone or gel pads and Knit Rite socks; community members, friends, and even co-workers can come together to raise money for all of these items to show a veteran how much they matter.
In some cases, that show of support can make all the difference for a veteran to make it through his or her journey with PTSD. One commonly reported side effect of retirement is a feeling of being bereft, without purpose, and cut off from the brother or sisterhood they once felt a part of. Facilitating support groups centered on needed action is an effective way to combat PTSD by giving them a support outlet while also giving them a group purpose again.
Whether a veteran has mobility or is disabled, PTSD can make holding a civilian job more difficult, yet regaining a sense of purpose is vital in the path to wellness. Groups such as DAV help veterans get back and forth to work or to medical appointments, and can always use volunteers and donations. Employers with open positions can work with RecruitMilitary.com and advertise in publications like “Search & Employ®” to help prevent returning veterans from falling through the cracks in an overcrowded labor market.
Many people claim that they support veterans. The challenge is putting meaning behind that statement by standing up for them and donating time, energy, and resources to a veteran-related cause. One of the most important ways we can help veterans fight PTSD is simply to show up.