7 Impactful Ways to Support Veterans in 2023
Veterans play a vital role in our communities, and we should all consider showing our appreciation. Supporting veterans and aiming to make a positive impact in their lives should be goals for all to work toward in 2023.
The men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces deserve more than our respect—they also deserve appropriate assistance in their transition to civilian life and beyond.
There are many ways to honor former service members for their commitment to our country. As individuals, we can show support by volunteering with organizations that serve veterans, asking our Congressional representatives to prioritize veterans issues, and doing simple acts of kindness.
As a veteran-led advocacy organization, we are determined to further our efforts throughout 2023, and we encourage you to join us. Whether you’re seeking to get involved as an individual, family, business owner, or organization, here are a few impactful ways to support veterans:
1. Speak to your Congressional representatives about veterans issues
Veterans deserve better from our elected officials and the federal agencies and programs meant to support them. Mission Roll Call’s recent research survey found a number of U.S. adults would agree: 47% believe the federal government has not been effective in assisting veterans with transitioning to civilian life or finding affordable housing (50%), employment (41%), and healthcare (46%).
These survey responses show that many of us believe our leaders and lawmakers could be doing more for our veterans. We must make it a point to let our Congressional representatives know that legislation affecting former service members should be a priority.
There are several ways to make your voice heard. Visit your Congressional representative’s website to find out how to contact their office. From there you can send letters or write emails urging them to prioritize veterans issues during their term and keep up with their track record on related legislation. You can also share a veteran story on social media and tag your representatives. If you’re not sure where to find one, look to Mission Roll Call: We consistently feature veteran stories on our platforms.
Putting pressure on your representatives makes a real difference. In the past year, we saw the passing of the Honoring Our PACT Act, meant to assist veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances; the MAMMO Act, focused on improving breast health services at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare facilities; and the Solid Start Act, which requires the VA to contact veterans during their first year out of the military.
Even with the positive outcomes expected from these bills, there is much more that can be done to meet the needs of our veterans. Leaders in Congress have a duty to listen to their constituents’ concerns, and your voice matters.
Additionally, you may consider donating to Mission Roll Call. Every dollar you give helps us take the veteran communities’ concerns directly to Washington as we advocate for positive change.
2. Sponsor a service animal for veterans experiencing PTS
Many dogs have been trained to aid and assist individuals with a variety of needs. For veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress (PTS), service dogs may even help ease symptoms such as nightmares, anxiety, depression, or suicidal ideation. A study released in May 2022 by Frontiers in Psychiatry found that “the presence of a service dog improved the reported quality of life, and lowered the level of reported [PTS] symptoms” for veterans.
There are several organizations that allow you to sponsor a companion or service dog for veterans, with packages including training and placement. K9s for Warriors, Patriot PAWS, Semper K9, Warrior Canine Connection, and Labs for Liberty are among those we recommend. Your contribution could have a tremendous impact, whether it’s a monetary gift or volunteer assistance.
Veterans are at a higher risk for PTS than civilians due to certain realities of military life. For example, exposure to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), guerilla warfare tactics, and other horrific acts are known to heighten the chances of developing PTS. Less-mentioned factors like moral wounds, sexual traumas, or issues in military culture can play a role in veterans developing PTS as well.
The PAWS Act, passed in 2021, requires the VA to conduct a five-year pilot program supporting service dogs for veterans with PTS. In an initial step, the VA now allows veterans with PTS and other mental health diagnoses to be eligible for its service dog veterinary insurance benefit.
With research increasingly pointing to the positive effects service dogs can have on veterans experiencing PTS, sponsoring one for a former service member is a great way to show support.
3. Express gratitude through simple acts of kindness and giving
If asked whether we think supporting veterans is a worthy priority, most people would say “yes.” Mission Roll Call’s September 2022 research survey found the majority of U.S. adults believe veterans make significant contributions to their communities.
After selflessly serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, many veterans go on to become vital members of our society in other ways. According to the 2021 Veterans Civic Health Index, veterans are more likely to vote, volunteer, donate to charities, spend time with their neighbors, and be involved in their communities.
There’s no way we can truly repay veterans for their service to our nation, but we can each do our part in showing gratitude. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. The great news is there are many practical ways to show appreciation to veterans if you don’t know where to start. Try out simple acts of kindness and giving, such as:
Donating to an organization supporting or advocating for veterans
Whether it's housing assistance, connecting veterans to quality care, or supporting those in crisis—you are bound to find a local or national organization focused on these needs. Consider making a one-time or regular contribution to a nonprofit doing the work you’re passionate about. For example, in 2022 Mission Roll Call highlighted the work of America's Warrior Partnership, Boulder Crest Foundation, Camp Southern Ground, and Black Ops Rescue, among many others.
Sending a letter of gratitude to a veteran via an organization
Even with all the rapid forms of communication available to us, there is something special about receiving a thoughtful, handwritten card or letter. Organizations like A Million Thanks and Soldiers Angels will help you send notes of gratitude to veterans. Taking the time to write a thoughtful letter is a great way to honor former service members and put a smile on their faces.
Shopping at veteran-owned small businesses
According to a 2021 report by SCORE, 9.1% of small business owners are veterans and they employ nearly 6 million Americans. Yet the survey of over 3,000 entrepreneurs nationwide found veterans reported a lack of federal, state, and local support amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As we emerge from the pandemic, this is a wonderful time to increase support for veteran-run small businesses. Look for shops or services near you in directories like American Veteran Owned Business Association and Buy Veteran, and aim to make a habit of patronizing them.
Hiring a veteran for your company or organization’s needs
It’s often been said that veterans make great hires. From their characteristic tenacity and discipline to their diverse skill sets and ability to work under pressure, it’s easy to understand why. If you own a business or run a nonprofit organization, consider a veteran for an open role. To get started, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s website, which features insightful resources and tips for attracting and hiring veteran candidates.
4. Volunteer to support veterans transitioning to civilian life
A recent MRC poll asked veterans if they have received transition assistance (i.e. mentorship, financial assistance, job placement, VA or healthcare assistance) from a local nonprofit, business, or community provider. Out of 4,642 respondents, only 19% said “yes.”
These staggering results show there’s plenty of room to step up and show up for our veterans, especially those transitioning to civilian life.
An estimated 250,000 men and women leave or retire from U.S. military service each year, and the process of adjusting to civilian life can be uniquely challenging for veterans. Things like navigating the healthcare system, applying for jobs, and finding a home can be overwhelming when exiting a career that provided these necessities.
To get started, think of how your skills may be useful to veterans and search for an organization that works in that area. For instance, if you have worked in the medical field, you may want to draw from your experience to help connect veterans with quality care providers. Or if you have great people skills, you could assist the Military Spouse Transition Program or sign up as a mentor for the American Legion.
5. Assist veterans in their efforts to secure employment, education, or affordable housing
Veterans make considerable contributions to the workforce and our communities. According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the unemployment rate for all veterans (4.4%) was lower than the rate for non-veterans (5.3%) in 2021. And research has shown veterans are more likely to be civically engaged than non-veterans.
Despite playing such a commendable role in society, a significant number of veterans experience homelessness. Only 7% of the general population claim veteran status, yet veterans make up around 13% of the homeless adult population. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that there are 33,136 veterans experiencing homelessness as of January 2022.
Veteran homelessness is often attributed to affordable housing shortages, in addition to a lack of support networks or unawareness of federal benefits and resources. You can be a part of decreasing veteran homelessness even more by volunteering with organizations like National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, Veterans on the Rise, and U.S. Vets.
What’s more, some veterans have issues securing employment or enrolling in school amid their transition to civilian life.
Obtaining a job that provides the same level of financial security as the military can be difficult. Blue Star Families’ most recent Military Family Lifestyle survey shows respondents listed veteran employment as one of their top concerns. Former service members seeking to enroll in higher education upon exiting or retiring from the military can find navigating benefits and programs overwhelming too.
Unfortunately, the VA’s Transition Assistance Program — known as TAP — is usually not enough to effectively aid veterans in finding employment, education, and benefits. But organizations such as the Boulder Crest Foundation, America’s Warrior Partnership, and Merging Vets & Players offer vital services and support to former service members that can help fill in the gaps.
Take a look at more of the veteran nonprofits Mission Roll Call has partnered with over the years to see where you could be of assistance. There are numerous ways to lend a hand to organizations working to keep veterans securely housed, employed, and empowered to take advantage of educational opportunities—something they all deserve.
6. Point veterans in crisis to resources and support groups
The suicide rate among veterans is concerning. According to America’s Warrior Partnership’s (AWP) 2022 report, between 22 and 24 veterans ages 18-64 die by suicide daily, and 18 to 20 veterans in the same age group die each day by self-injury. This data indicates at least 40 to 44 veterans take their lives every day.
What’s more, Brown University’s Costs of War Project study found that the suicide rate among active service members and veterans of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) is outpacing average Americans; an estimated 114,000 veterans have taken their own lives since 2001.
In 2020, the Veteran Crisis Line (VCL) system was incorporated into 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Along with Mission Roll Call, organizations such as Stop Soldier Suicide, Lifeline for Vets, and Mission 22 provide valuable resources for veterans dealing with suicidal ideation as well.
If you know of a veteran experiencing suicidal ideation, urge them to reach out to one of the many organizations designed to help them, such as the resources listed above. Warning signs may include loss of interest in activities, social isolation, expressing feelings of hopelessness, ongoing depressed mood, self-harm, or substance abuse.
Consider volunteering with organizations on the frontline of preventing veteran suicide. You can also reach out regularly to veterans in your life, letting them know you’re there to support them—sometimes a simple call can make a big difference.
Whether connected to a veteran or not, we can all spread the word to raise suicide awareness within our networks.
7. Encourage veterans you know to share their stories
In our aim to present the “unfiltered voice of veterans” to lawmakers and interest groups, Mission Roll Call features stories of diverse veterans from across the country. Encourage a veteran you know to consider sharing their valuable perspective with us.
The collective voice, needs, and experiences of our former service members should be heard by our leaders and representatives, and Mission Roll Call has made it our duty to ensure this happens.
In 2022, Mission Roll Call conducted 19 polls with 92,000 responses from veterans and sent them to Congress. Through consistent outreach, we interacted with over 3,000 veterans and spread the word on veterans issues in 75 media pieces—and that number is growing.
Additionally, we have worked with and referred veterans to several organizations over the years that offer vital services and support, including America’s Warrior Partnership, Patriot Paws, Panhandle Warrior Partnership, Black Ops Rescue, Sierra Delta, Higher Ground, Camp Southern Ground, and Boulder Crest Foundation.
Mission Roll Call’s efforts will continue throughout 2023. As we all map out our plans for the year, let’s keep in mind the courageous men and women who have served our nation and sacrificed so much for our freedoms.
Our team is committed to highlighting veteran stories, educating our members on useful resources, and informing the public and lawmakers on crucial veterans issues. We hope you will get involved too, by supporting former service members in your community through organizations such as Mission Roll Call.