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Friday, May 01, 2015

So You Think Our Country Isn't Doing Right by Our Veterans

EVERY DAY I get a post or an email about how terribly our nation treats its soldiers. I agree. We should do more

So why by all that's holy are you people waiting for the government to do something?

These posts often crawl all over the government for not doing enough. Perhaps that's all true, although the VA and other agencies do help vets and often the help is substantial. If the help is erratic or too little, we can debate that, but it doesn't answer the real question.

What have you done for our soldiers lately? Have you donated money to a charity for soldiers. Volunteered your time in a VA hospital. Do you know a veteran that's having problems that you personally could help him with. Does a wounded/disabled vet in your neighborhood need help cutting his grass. Could you invite his kids to join your Little League baseball team?

A friend of mine is a retired officer and helps a soldier he knows who has a problem with alcoholism. He carries him to group sessions and to the hospital sometimes. He gives him little jobs when the guy gets into financial trouble. He does what he needs to do to help the guy. It's not easy. Sometimes his efforts cost him considerable time and effort, but he gives that time to befriend a fellow serviceman.

I know what your saying. How about you, Tom. What are you doing?  Okay, fair enough.  I spent almost a year of my life starting a center for independent living in East Texas. My darling wife was our primary support at the time while I managed to rake in just a few dollars here and there while I was writing a very complex federal grant. The center serves as many or more disabled soldiers as all the rest of its clients put together. I worked for months for free during the startup. I raised 1.5 million dollars for the center altogether and then stepped aside so that the people who run the center were all people with disabilities.

So, let me ask you again, "What have you done lately?"  It's all well and good to recognize that our wounded vets should be supported by our nation, but let's not forget. YOU are part of that nation. So, do something. You have no excuse for not helping. There are hundreds of charities helping veterans in need. It doesn't have to be a charity, though. In fact, if you're stopping with giving a few bucks to charity, you aren't doing enough.

You really want to help?  Great!.  Then go out and find a soldier who needs help and then do what you can to help him. Perhaps he's recovering from PTSD. Could you just lend an ear - let him tell someone his troubles? Perhaps he's struggling with alcoholism or homelessness or is in financial difficulty. Give him a job if you have one. Speak up for him with an employer you know. Help him get a job or a place to live.

For heaven's sake, do something! Don't sit around on your feather pillow and congratulate yourself for complaining about it on Facebook!  It's all well and good to lament the way our soldiers are neglected, but if you don't do something yourself, you're just bitching to make yourself feel less guilty for not doing anything!

That's just one man's opinion,

Tom King
(c) 2015


Greenescape said...

Thanks, Tom! Didn't know about the center in East Texas, but definitely appreciate your involvement.

As a disabled vet (Coast Guard), I'm one of the fortunate ones that doesn't need the assistance many do. My disability is limiting, yes, but not as much as some. Plus, I have a good job with good health benefits, so I don't have to rely on the VA for my care.

That said, there are many who are not as fortunate. We didn't sign up with the intent to use these services - none of us volunteered just so we could have the government take care of us. We volunteered to do the jobs many can't or won't do. It's nice to be appreciated, and showing that appreciation by helping someone who served is a wonderful way to make someone's day.

That said, please consider that if you donate to a veteran's charity, do the research first. Too many are out there that spend very little on programs, and very much on "administrative" costs. Some aren't even managed by veterans.

Please make sure your support actually helps.


Tom King said...

I do know about checking who runs veterans charities. It was run entirely by disabled veterans, so I was prepared to find a really solid charitable organization. I observed one very closely for several months. They seemed to be a lot about going to meetings and workshops in nice vacation destinations. There was a lot of arguing at the meetings and most of the issues "resolved" were of the tempest in a teapot variety. I had some difficulty seeing much of a mission beyond fund-raising, jockeying for position in the organization and a little volunteer work. I checked their financials and they were spending a lot on admin and fund-raising and not much on program. That's why I try to be really careful where I put my efforts.