Veterans Day, of all days, is an ideal time to focus on and talk about programs available to veterans — and while you could argue that there isn’t always enough being done to help American service members, here are five programs that offer unique aid.
1. Pets For Vets
Pets For Vets is a program that’s unique in its ability to take on two important issues simultaneously — that of veteran rehabilitation and post-traumatic stress disorder, and shelter dogs in need of homes. The dogs are trained ahead of time to be good fits for veterans in terms of their disposition and sensitivity to possible wheelchairs or disabilities.
The animals are then paired with veterans who are desirous of a companion animal. “Needy shelter dogs receive a second chance at life while giving our returning soldiers a second chance at health and happiness,” according to the program website.
2. Veteran Artist Program
The Veteran Artist Program, or VAP, was created by veterans with the goal of helping connect aspiring artists leaving military duty and coming back to the artist community. The program isn’t just for veterans who love to paint: It also offers support to those interested in writing, performing, acting, singing opera, etc.
“So many people think that the military experience is at odds with the creative arts world — it’s not. As a veteran, I don’t have to give up one world for the other, even though I may have considered it at one time. The time is NOW for veterans to reshape the arts in America and own the discussion about the veteran experience in the mainstream creative arts community,” BR McDonald, the founder of the program, says on VAP’s website.
3. War Writers Campaign
In a similarly creative vein, the War Writers Campaign is a nonprofit independent publishing group that offers a platform for veteran writers to publish. The program is centered around encouraging therapy through literature and writing, raising awareness of important veteran issues through creative works, and funneling revenue from published works back into veteran programs. Authors can be veterans themselves or family members, and royalties help to empower creative pursuits.
4. Boots to Suits
Made up entirely of volunteers, the Boots to Suits program seeks to combat high veteran suicide rates by aiding returning veterans in the search and preparation for jobs or the transition into education. Mentoring and networking efforts from Boots to Suits volunteers help the rising numbers of unemployed men and women returning from military service find a good placement.
5. Music Corps
“I’m reinvesting in music. I never thought that something beautiful would happen to me here, but this drumming is creating something beautiful, and I’ve been so lonely here,” said one veteran at the San Francisco VA Medical Center of the Music Corps program, per the organization’s website. The program offers musical therapy to older veterans, many of whom are suffering from depression and isolation.