This series was inspired by the 2012 National Conference on Volunteering and Service. This section references a speech given by veteran and Purple Heart recipient Bryan Anderson at that conference.
To view the introduction to the series, click here.
To view the first installment, click here.
To view the second installment, click here.
To view the third installment, click here.
To view the fourth installment, click here.
As Veterans Remembrance month draws to a close, some will forget about the struggles that veterans face and let these issues fade from mind. The issues won’t fade though, and veterans will continue to need the support of their local community. And, the Elks won’t forget that.
“Homelessness continues to be a problem,” says Bob Hennings, Director of the Elks National Veterans Service Commission. “For younger veterans and even those from the Vietnam era, adjusting to society can be difficult. PTSD affects a large number of veterans, causing depression and anxiety. For all veterans, obtaining proper care is essential. One aspect of proper care is transportation; another includes easing loneliness and another is access to healthcare.”
These issues are solvable, if we work together to solve them. Elks pledge to never forget our nation’s veterans. We should always keep in mind that veterans simply need a hand up, and Elks can offer that hand.
Hennings offer some guidance for those looking to take action. Before action, however, comes planning.
“First and foremost, find out the needs of veterans or active military in the community. If there is a VA hospital, State Veterans Nursing Home, military hospital, or base in the area, Lodges can contact these facilities. The National Guards of each state have family assistance centers, and local government websites often describe the needs of veterans in the community. All VA hospitals sponsor events for homeless and at-risk veterans call Stand Downs, which provide counseling for benefits, jobs, housing, necessities, food and clothing. Volunteers are always welcome.”
Publicity can be a great way to spread awareness. Many people want to help veterans but don’t know how. Your Lodge can offer them a way to do so. When spreading awareness about veterans’ issues, focus on facts. Educating the public on the issues facing veterans, and offering them a way to help by supporting your Lodge project, is an effective way of engaging the community.
“Hospitalized, homebound and elderly veterans may have few or no family members nearby,” Hennings says of the project. “Their friends may have passed on and they are essentially alone in the world. Financial support is helpful, but it’s much better to have personal contact with veterans.”
Your Lodge can start at the local level today. The ENF is here to help.
Visit the Community Investments Program webpage to learn about grants available to serve veterans.
Visit the Elks National Veterans Service Commission webpage to learn about Freedom Grants and other veterans programs.