How You Can Make a Difference and Help Veterans and Those who Serve

help a vet

By Debbie Gregory.

“Thank you for your service” rolls off the tongue quite easily. But if you want to back that up with action instead of just words, here are some ways you can truly express your appreciation for those who have served.

Send a letter, pack a care package, make paracord bracelets: Operation Gratitude is just one of the non-profits that sends care packages to veterans, first responders, new recruits,  wounded warriors, care givers, and to individually named U.S. service members deployed overseas and their families waiting at home. There are many other non-profits that do the same to lift the spirits and meet the needs of those who serve.

Donate your time just to visit: VA hospitals and nursing homes will welcome you to visit with wounded, disabled or elderly veterans.

Make good use of your talents: Are you good at organizing? Do you like to garden? Do you like to go to the grocery store? Any of these tasks can be done for a veteran or military family that could use an extra set of hands.

You don’t have to work for Uber to help drive veterans where they need to go. Maybe take them along while you run an errand or two. Sometimes an outing that doesn’t involve a trip to the doctor’s office is a nice break.

Volunteer at a Stand Down: Opportunities to help exist long before the stand down begins. You could secure donations of goods and services. You can help with set-up and tear-down. If your area doesn’t currently have a stand down, maybe you can be the spark to change that.

The bottom line is DONATE!  There’s always a need for monetary donations, time donations and skill donations.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

App Creators Hope to Help Veterans through Peer Support

objective zero

By Debbie Gregory.

Community support is often the most powerful tool for overcoming the psychological injuries of war and military service. Objective Zero, an app that should be launching later this summer intends to do just that by connecting veterans experiencing mental distress with other veterans who can talk them through it.

The name Objective Zero is a reflection of the sentiment that VA Under Secretary for Health, David J. Shulkin said in a statement: “We as a nation must focus on bringing the number of veteran suicides to zero.”

Objective Zero grew from a six hour phone conversation between Army soldier Chris Mercado and his buddy, Justin Miller. A few months after leaving the Army, Miller was considering suicide. Living in constant pain, jobless, and unable to sleep because of his terrible nightmares, Justin had reached the lowest point in his life. The conversation became an article that was published in 2015 on Mercado’s Georgetown classmates formed a team that researched the issue of veteran suicide and began designing the app.

It would act as a conversation platform between veterans, but also direct users to other resources and services they could pursue on their own.

Through the app, a veteran in distress can open the program, select voice, video, or text, and broadcast what Mercado calls a “distress signal” to those veterans signed up as ambassadors.

“It’s kind of like texting 10 people at the same time, saying you need help,” Mercado says.

Joining Objective Zero in their goal is Headspace, a popular subscription-based meditation app, which is offering its services at no cost to veterans registered through Objective Zero, as well as Comeback Yoga, which will make their videos available through the app.

“What we found is by increasing social connectedness among veterans, providing access to resources, and improving access to care, we can lower suicide rates,” said Mercado.

The Objective Zero team will be coordinating with the VA to help get veterans registered on the app once it’s available later in the summer.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.