If you’re a veteran, you’ve already done more for others than most people do in a lifetime. Notwithstanding compensation (which is hardly commensurate to the work, sacrifice and hardship endured), military folks are hardwired to go above the call of duty, to see themselves in terms of “us” and to do whatever it takes to help a friend in trouble.
Vets make the best volunteers for these reasons:
- Many possess knowledge and skills that are hard to come by.
- They are superior leaders, but do well in supporting roles too.
- Being organized and focused is second nature.
- Most aren’t good at remaining idle.
- They pour their hearts into what they believe.
- They don’t give up.
Of course, great volunteer opportunities exist everywhere, but being able to volunteer alongside (or to help) people with which we have things in common can be a singularly enriching experience, so we thought we’d list some of our favorite vet-specific volunteer gigs.
What’s great about tried and true groups like the American Legion, VFW or DAV is that they offer many different types of volunteer work; so that no matter a veteran’s skill set, physical ability or personality, there are jobs enough for everyone.
- American Legion
- Advocacy and Legislation - Since its inception in 1919, the American Legion has been involved in military and veterans’ issues on both state and national levels.
- National Guard or Reserve Unit “Adoption” - Some local posts reach out to local units to find out how they can assist them.
- Family Support Network - Often when a soldier is deployed, a family that depended on them is left behind. This initiative connects volunteers with families in need.
- Blood Drives - Launched in 1946, The American Legion’s Blood Donor program has been one of the organization’s flagship causes. The AL promotes post participation by making it easy to set up drives on its “Blood Drive Registration” web page and honoring departments who are able to donate the most blood.
- American Legion Riders - Though they want to make a distinction that they are not a “motorcycle or biker club”, this group of legionnaire motorcycle enthusiasts do ride together to raise money and show support for VA hospitals, wounded warriors, POW/MIA, fallen heroes, etc.
- Honor Guard/Color Guard - Whether providing a recently deceased veteran with a dignified tribute or performing the solemn, yet inspirational posting of the national colors, these men and women are often called upon at a moment’s notice to bring a sense of honor and remembrance to funerals and special events alike.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars
- Advocacy and Legislation - Having been involved in almost every important piece of veteran-relevant legislation in the 20th and 21st centuries, the VFW is an active campaigner for veterans issues at the community, state and federal levels.
- Adopt-A-Unit - To date, more than 29,000 active duty units and ships have been adopted by VFW posts nationwide, providing troops and their families with welcome home ceremonies, family days, holiday celebrations, funeral/bereavement support, etc.
- Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service - Known for working hand-in-hand with the VA, VFW members donate millions of hours volunteering in VA hospitals; providing companionship, entertainment, transportation, personal assistance, etc.
- Buddy Poppy Drive - Each year hundreds of thousands of Buddy Poppies are distributed by VFW and VFW Ladies Auxiliary volunteers to raise money for the disabled vets who assemble them (who are also compensated for their work) and to support the VFW’s National Home for Children, which provides housing and financial assistance to military families in need.
- VFW Riders - Though newer than the American Legion Riders, the VFW Riders also support initiatives to promote veterans causes, motorcycle safety and patriotism; while also finding time to support one another and have fun doing it.
- Honor Guard/Color Guard - The VFW also provides veteran volunteers to honor and memorialize veterans at funerals, parades, patriotic holiday events, school programs, etc.
- Disabled American Veterans
- Advocacy and Legislation - DAV’s lobbying efforts are mainly focused on legislation concerning veteran homelessness, unemployment, medical care, suicide prevention and, of course, disability policies.
- Drive A Van - Although you don’t need to be a DAV member to volunteer for the DAV, a great number of members find their perfect niche among a number of fulfilling options, such as giving disabled vets a lift to their VA appointments.
- Hospital Volunteering - Whether participating in recreational activities, serving coffee, escorting patients, reading aloud, providing companionship, etc., there are are no end of rewarding tasks just waiting for the right person.
- Veterans Assistance Program - Special skills are helpful, but not necessary, for those interested in working one-on-one with disabled vets and their families by helping with home repairs, painting, yard work, running errands, getting groceries, etc.
- Pro Bono Services - Are you a lawyer, accountant, financial planner, massage therapist, yoga instructor or music teacher? If your chosen profession is one that could be beneficial to disabled vets, but hard for some to afford, offering your services for free through the DAV is an excellent way to make sure your volunteer hours are well spent.
Of course, we’ve only covered a portion of what these organizations (and others like them) do for veterans, their communities and their countries. Each group has its own unifying philosophy, mission and goals; while individual posts are able to serve their communities in more relevant and specific ways.
Of course, membership in any veterans organization is normally contingent upon proof of service, usually in the form of a DD-214. If you’re going to join, you’ll want to make sure you have yours handy.
If, however, you’re one of the millions of veterans who no longer have (or never had) their discharge papers, there’s a better way than ordering through eVetRecs.
- Each state maintains its own records for the National Guard, as well as DC, meaning that there are 51 separate agencies housing NG records.
- The Army does maintain its own repository, but the National Archives CAN access Army records on request. However, they can’t do so for the Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, Marine Reserves or Merchant Marines.
- Air Force Records are housed by two separate agencies which operate independently of each other.
- On occasion, National Archive-owned records end up in the possession of the VA, which requires a search of one of 50 different VA locations. The ONLY way to find these records is to speak directly to the office in which it’s housed.
- Unfortunately, when the National Archives receives a request for records that are housed elsewhere, the best most applicants can expect is a letter that basically says, “Go somewhere else.”
Veteran-owned DD214Direct.com is simply the easiest, fastest, most effective method of military records retrieval on the planet. Ordering through eVetRecs can involve extensive amounts of time, effort and, often, knowledge that most people just don’t have. The truth is, not all records are in the National Archives’ system and some require intense sleuthing to locate.
DD214Direct.com’s team of courteous, professional records “bloodhounds” know how to create perfectly structured and worded requests, make sure those requests are routed to the appropriate departments, pick up on trails and follow them wherever they may lead; even if that means looking outside conventional records repositories.
Our three-tiered pricing makes it easy for you to choose your desired delivery speed (we can even email your records!) and the time you’ll save can be better spent doing something worthwhile, like deciding on your next volunteering adventure.