Can’t Give Money? Here’s What You Can Do to Help Suffering Veterans

Best charities to donate to

“The truth of the matter is, and I say this with respect, more often than not, the government does a much better job of sending people to war than they do bringing them home.”

Those words were spoken by Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, in a recent interview with CBS News. Schultz has pledged $30 million to help veterans returning to the United States after their tours of duty abroad are up, most of which will be given to help research into brain trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (an affliction that now nearly one in three Iraq and Afghanistan vets are coping with).

Such a large sum of money from the CEO of a prominent corporation prompts the question — have things really gotten so bad for our veterans that they’re beyond helping, at least in the eyes of the federal government? The answer might be yes, but perhaps the issue has become entirely too political to be solved through pure government assistance.

But it’s not too late for you to be a part of its solution. And no, you don’t have to pledge $30 million in corporate profits to make a difference. All you have to do is open your heart to helping families in need.

Donate the simpler things.

Sure, donating cars and money can help charity organizations continue their services. But you don’t need have to have deep pockets or disposable vehicles to help — all you need is some old clothing, some cans of food, recent magazines, telephone cards and a tin can of coffee grounds. VA hospitals across the country run on small, simple donations like these every day.

Volunteer your time.

As much as your smaller charitable donations are appreciated, the greatest gift of all is really your time. The best charities to donate to will take your goods, but every VA hospital in America needs help continuing to provide service to returning vets who still struggle with injuries both mental and physical. While Schultz’s money awaits clinical research in laboratories, you can touch someone’s life simply by offering to push their wheelchair for a few hours.

Don’t make judgments.

The first step to helping families in need is understanding that there’s no stereotypical image of what a needy family looks like. Your neighbor, though he may drive a BMW, could be suffering from lingering health troubles brought on by war. The car could be paid off by now, but the medical bills aren’t. Even more troubling is the rate of homelessness among vets and their families which continues to rise, even today. You’ll do well to understand that everyone suffers in their own way — but they don’t have to suffer alone.

Now you understand that donations for veterans don’t all come in the same box
. Time can be a donation, as can a cup of coffee. Given all that, it’s a whole lot easier than you probably thought to devote small bits of your time helping families in need. And you don’t need to be a millionaire to do so — no matter which Fortune 500 company decides to give $30 million next.

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