Many older Veterans in hospitals, VA homes, nursing homes and care centers have limited or no family nearby. Without social engagement and positive interaction, Veterans' health can suffer when they lack support. Volunteers can support local Veterans by participating in the Adopt-a-Veteran Program and providing friendship and assistance.
Beyond those Veterans who are in hospitals, VA homes, nursing homes and care centers are the ten's of thousands of Veterans who are in the VA Homeless and Tribal HUD-VASH Programs. (Contact us for more information on Tribal HUD-VASH--a program designed to serve our Native American Veterans.)
These men, women and their families need support and social contact. The Adopt-a-Veteran program is designed to provide that social support.
Working in partnership with the Elks, Military Outreach USA has taken many of their suggestions and incorporated them into a "suggested activities" set of ideas. As the program develops more suggestions and activities will be added.
Active Duty Military, National Guard & Reserves
The men and women who wear the uniform, while Veterans, are still serving us. Their needs are sometimes different than those Veterans receiving health or other types of care and assistance. Military Outreach USA, in the development of the Community Covenant Program will focus on those who are currently serving. As resources are developed for those serving they will be provided to those in our Adopter Network via our Newsletter.
Ways to Serve
When we say "Adopt-a-Veteran" this can mean working in hospitals, VA homes, nursing homes and care centers as a volunteer and filling any number of the needs of that facility. It can also mean bringing to those facilities suggested activities that are sponsored by your house of worship, civic group or veteran service organization.
It can also mean "adopting" a Veteran outside of the medical facility.
Not only can you consider "adopting" Veterans being served by a medical facility but also those who have recently transitioned into housing. Once a Veteran is home, it can be difficult to change habits and transition from life on the street. Veterans may need assistance with independent living and home care skills such as budgeting, opening bank accounts, cooking, cleaning, job seeking and assistance dealing with landlords. These are all areas where you can help.
As an Network member you already have access to the VA Homeless Program and Voluntary Service personnel at your local VA facility. Contact them to review reaching out to Veterans in their facility to conduct any of the suggested activities you are considering.
Remember that Veterans at the VA are protected by privacy laws and their contact information may not be readily provided. You may need to become a Volunteer at your local VA facility to have increased contact with those with whom you wish to serve.
Where do we find Veterans?
As Community Covenants are developed you will be able to identify others in your area who you can work with in serving Veterans. In the mean time establish relations with your local Elks, VFW, American Legion, homeless shelters and others to identify Veterans in need.
Sponsor an Event
Sponsor with your organization or with others a Veteran focused event. Veterans tend to go to events centered around their concerns so this is an excellent opportunity to meet with Veterans in your community and to address issues that they may be encountering.
Are you committed to serve?
We all have heard the stories of how Veterans have been "used and ripped off" just because they were Veterans. In Adopting-a-Veteran you must be committed to serving those who have served us. The Elks require that their adopters pledge to contact their "adopted" Veterans at least three times per month (2 by phone and 1 by social encounter) for at least one year. Social outings can be anything from going for walk in the park to a ball game or even out to a dinner.
If you want to do more than just saying, "Thank you for your service." then become part of the Network and begin serving those who served us!
Communities Serving Our Nation's Veterans