What Have You Done For a Veteran?

I hope everyone had a happy Memorial Day.  Yesterday I mentioned how each generation seems to be associated with a war.  History repeats, but not in the same way.  The War on Terror and its related actions have been unique in that we have a peacetime home front despite vicious fighting in multiple locations.  The ordinary citizen has been asked to sacrifice nothing (well, maybe a hassle at airports) and contribute little.  With a few exceptions, this one is very, very far away.

And yet, in the final analysis we’re all affected by it.  A personal note — occasionally I see a post in social media that we should take care of our veterans before helping refugees, or words to that effect.  That’s an excellent sentiment, but:

1) We invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.  After almost 15 years of conflict, these posters are just now realizing we have veterans who need help?

2) Everyone in the world who is hurting deserves whatever aid we can give them.

3) Who is ‘we’, anyway?  Is the government expected to do everything?  What about us as individuals?

Time for the blunt question — what have you done to help?

If your answer is ‘nothing’, I have a suggestion.  Find and support a reputable charity who provides veterans’ assistance.  My favorite in this category is any organization that provides service dogs.  There are actually a number of them (in no particular order):

Operation Freedom Paws (http://operationfreedompaws.org/)  — “Operation Freedom Paws empowers veterans and others with disabilities to live a quality life by teaching them to train their own dogs, and certifying them as service dog teams. The dogs, usually from rescue organizations or shelters, are carefully evaluated. Each is then matched to a specific client’s physical and psychological needs. There is no charge – all we ask is a commitment to complete the 48-week training program.”

Hero Dogs (http://www.hero-dogs.org/)  — “Hero Dogs, Inc. is a Maryland 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with our nation’s veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence. We have 5 staff members and more than 100 volunteers committed to the success of our mission.”

K9s for Warriors (http://www.k9sforwarriors.org/) — “K9s For Warriors is dedicated to providing service canines to our warriors suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disability, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma as a result of military service post 9/11. Our goal is to empower them to return to civilian life with dignity and independence. K9s For Warriors is a tax-exempt 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization.”

Patriot Paws (http://www.patriotpaws.org/) — “The mission of Patriot PAWS is to train and provide service dogs of the highest quality at no cost to disabled American veterans and others with mobile disabilities and PTS in order to help restore their physical and emotional independence. Patriot PAWS intends to build partnerships with state and community organizations to help develop and support this goal.”

Pets for Vets (http://www.petsforvets.com/) — “Our goal is to help heal the emotional wounds of military veterans by pairing them with a shelter dog that is specially selected to match his or her personality. Professional animal trainers rehabilitate the dogs and teach them good manners to fit into the veteran’s lifestyle.”

There are probably more, but this would be a good starting point for anyone wanting to help.

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