Recently, Volunteers of America convened a panel discussion at the National Press Club to discuss many of the issues facing America’s veterans, particularly traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The panel consisted of former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar; senior advisor for the Corporation for National and Community Service Koby Langley; Jonathan Sherin, MD, PhD, executive vice president of veterans affairs for Volunteers of America; and Kelly Caffarelli, president of The Home Depot Foundation, which has committed more than $80 million to help returning veterans.
Also in the discussion was the hopelessness so many veterans face. Demonstrated by the growing suicide rates for veterans - 22 per day, on average - veterans are feeling increasingly isolated and abandoned.
Throughout the discussion, panelists continued to refer to the fact that so many veterans feel forsaken by the U.S. and that, while applauding those who are returning from war is a significant gesture, it does little to help them with the many day-to-day challenges they face.
Some ways citizens can help returning veterans include making sure that veterans know someone is there to help; writing a letter of gratitude; volunteering at a veterans' hospital; helping out with family chores like weeding or repairing when a spouse is deployed; offering transportation to work or doctor's office; donating items to local veterans' organizations; donating gift cards or cash; providing pet care for a deployed soldier; hosting an event like a run or a bake sale to benefit veterans; and assisting in establishing veterans' hiring programs at work.
For more ways to volunteer, visit www.VolunteersofAmerica.org.