1. Be Inspired: Pat Gleason, Chief of Voluntary Service at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, sat down to share how Elks can best meet the needs of today's veterans. Watch his inspiring comments here
2. Stay Informed: Sign up to receive the Elks National Veterans Service Commission’s monthly e-newsletter to stay up to date on how Elks continually serve veterans. Click here to sign up.
3. Read Up on Demographics: It’s important to be knowledgeable about who you are serving. Check out the veterans slideshow from the 2015 Elks National Convention for a comprehensive summary of the demographics of veterans in the United States today.
4. Continue Traditions, Start New Ones: The Elks have a rich history of supporting veterans, from parades on Veterans Day to Flag Day services. If your Lodge already has a tradition in place for veterans, why not start a new tradition? Check out some new traditions started in North Carolina, Vermont, Montana, and Missouri.
5. Think Local: Find local needs and contact local experts. It’s important not to duplicate services. The needs of homeless veterans in Florida, for example, may be very different from the needs of veterans experiencing homelessness in New Hampshire—make sure you understand your community, and find a niche for the Elks.
6. Look for Resources: Reach out to nearby VA hospitals and clinics, nursing homes, military bases, transitional centers, the USO, the VFW, Fisher House, and other organizations that support veterans and military members in need. Visit the ENF Veteran’s Resource page for even more ideas
7. Know the Guidelines: If you’re using a CIP grant for a project serving veterans in need, make sure you understand Gratitude, Beacon and Freedom Grant restrictions, as well as our updated veterans project guidelines.
8. Be Active: While donating a check to a local veteran’s organization is commendable, showing you care with active, hands-on service goes even further. Read the ENF’s Hand Up series for ideas and examples of the challenges facing today’s veterans, and how the Elks can actively provide assistance.
9. Inspire Students to Get Involved: Pass on the Elks’ commitment to veterans to younger generations. Get Elks Scholars involved with your charitable veteran’s projects—you’ll not only have another set of helping hands, but you’ll instill a love for service. Watch this inspiring video about our MVS scholars volunteering during the inaugural MVS Leadership Weekend in Chicago. Then, find Elks scholars in your area to help out!
10. Be a Friend: The simplest way to help is one that is often forgotten. Invite veterans to take part in your Lodge’s charitable activities. As service-minded individuals with many skills, you already know veterans can be a great asset to the community and to your Lodge. They just need a hand up. That’s where the Elks come in.
The Elks National Foundation allocated $9.77 million this year to fund the Community Investments Program. Lodges meet local needs in Elks communities through Beacon, Gratitude, Promise and Impact Grants. These grants offer Lodges opportunities to serve the community in ways that will raise the Lodge’s profile, energize the membership, encourage former members to return to the fold, and gain the notice of people who want to be part of an organization that’s doing great things. To learn more about the Community Investments Program, please visit www.elks.org/enf/community.