There’s a common misconception that assisting veterans and their families is a time-consuming affair. It certainly can be — but a lot of us who still want to help don’t have hundreds of hours to give every month.
Below, you’ll find helpful information on how you can support the ALA’s mission by serving veterans and their families from your own home and whenever you can. Volunteering of this type counts under the Auxiliary’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Service to Veterans program.
1. What can I do from my phone?
Contact local school guidance counselors and offer to be on call for assistance with military children.
Provide support for the spouse of a deployed servicemember. Refer to the ALA’s National Security Programs Action Plan and the ALA Military Family Readiness Action Guide at www.ALAforVeterans.org.
Call a veteran — reach out to nursing homes or veterans who may be living alone. Call nursing homes in your area or ask your network of family and friends if they know of anyone who would love to chat.
Contact local religious leaders and social service officers about the programs available in your community. Get involved!
Call your local legislators to advocate for the veterans-related issue(s) you care most about. Go to govtrack.us/congress/members to find your Congressional representative and their contact information.
2. What can I do from my computer?
Serve as a mentor in the career e-mentoring network through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Employment Program. Go to www.uschamberfoundation.org/hiring-our-heroes/military-spouse-program to find out how to sign up.
Write an editorial for your local newspaper about veterans issues you feel are important and timely.
Visit The American Legion’s legislative website at www.legion.org/legislative to keep current on legislative priorities, and post them on social media.
3. I have only five minutes. How can I help?
Post The American Legion’s legislative priorities on social media or share their posts on your own channels. Go to www.legion.org/socialmedia to see their social channels.
Take a few extra moments while shopping to purchase needed items for homeless shelters or transitional housing. Always-in-need items include laundry soap, cleaning supplies, kitchen items, hygiene items, and seasonal clothing such as hats, scarves, and gloves.
4. I have limited mobility. What can I do?
Donate to the American Legion Auxiliary in honor of someone who has made a difference in your life or the lives of veterans. You’ll spread awareness and help fund the mission.
Help relocating servicemembers and their families connect with Legion or ALA members in their new community.
Coordinate community donations for care packages for deployed troops. Contact churches, schools, friends, family, or whomever might be able to donate. Ask your local Auxiliary or Legion members if you can assist them with coordination.
5. My weekend is free. I want to help! What should I do?
Compile blessing bags, hygiene kits, or Buddy Baskets at home. Contact community members or organizations for donations or help. Prepare a time to assemble and deliver the items.
Visit with veterans, take them on a picnic, or offer to stay with homebound veterans to give their caregivers a break from responsibilities.
Participate in a stand down or a holiday gift shop at a local VA facility. For information on how to plan for or participate in these events, go to www.ALAforVeterans.org/var.
Learn more about how the American Legion Auxiliary serves veterans via the newly updated ALA Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation: A Guide for Volunteers. Download for free at www.ALAforVeterans.org or purchase a copy from American Legion Flag & Emblem Sales at emblem.legion.org.
This was originally published in the August Auxiliary magazine.