Transitioning from military to a civilian life is challenging for many veterans. They often struggle to adjust. Service has an impact on every veteran. They might experience health issues, labor market difficulties, and challenges to access benefits both right away after service and in the years to come. Transitional difficulties can result in severe issues like hopelessness, homelessness, and a higher chance of mental health crisis. Particularly vulnerable are veterans with disabilities. Luckily, many charities are working to meet the needs and provide services to veterans, whether that be advocating for their rights or giving them ‘a roof over their heads’. Here are 10 veteran charities having a real impact.
#1 VFW: The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
Who they are: VFW is a veterans charity made up of qualified veterans and active-duty, reserve, and guard service personnel. They trace their roots back to 1899, when local groups were created by veterans of the Philippine Insurrection (1899–1902) and the Spanish American War (1898–1898) to gain rights and benefits for their service.
Today, the charity works to make certain that veterans are honored for their service, consistently receive their deserving benefits, and are given due credit for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of the US nation.
What they do: VFW acts as a voice for veterans and fights for justice on a variety of issues affecting the US veterans, service members, and military families. They frequently testify before Congress, engage with elected officials, and mobilize a network of VFW members and patriots.
One of the VFW’s primary concerns is ensuring that women veterans receive benefits and services that recognize their courageous wartime service. They also have a grassroots chapters lobbying program called the Action Corps. These chapters are present all over the world and aim to inform and educate veterans and military members about the programs and laws that affect them and represent veterans’ interests before local, state, and federal legislators.
Their impact: Besides winning in the fight for compensation for Vietnam soldiers exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans with Gulf War Syndrome, as well as in the construction of the national cemetery system and the soldiers Administration, the VFW passed the GI Bill for the 21st Century in 2008, providing educational benefits to the guardsmen and reserve soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. They pioneered the 2014 Veterans Access and Accountability Act and continue to advocate for better VA medical center services for female veterans.
Ways to get involved: You can support VFW by donating directly through their website.
#2 Student Veterans of America: Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders
Who they are: The Student Veterans of America (SVA) is one of the leading charities promoting services, research, programming, and advocacy for veterans in higher education in the US.
Their mission is to ‘’act as a catalyst for student veteran success by providing resources, network support and advocacy to, through, and beyond higher education’’.
What they do: Through chapter programming and services, outcomes and impacts research, and advocacy at all levels, SVA enhances the academic, professional, and personal growth of veterans in higher education. SVA is dedicated to offering an education that goes beyond the classroom because their aim is to empower student veterans.
SVA motivates today’s warriors by establishing connections between student veterans and a network of committed chapter leaders through their dedicated network of more than 1.500 on-campus chapters in all 50 states and three foreign countries, which collectively represent more than 750.000 student veterans. Every day, these dedicated leaders put in the required effort to give the tools, network support, and advocacy so that student veterans can connect successfully, develop their skills, and ultimately realize their full potential.
Their impact: The Forever GI Bill, often known as the first significant revision to the GI Bill in ten years, was created by SVA and unanimously approved by Congress. About 1 million students are affected by this bipartisan law, which annually disburses more than $12 billion in benefits.
Ways to get involved: You can help SVA create tomorrow’s leaders by donating directly through their website.
#3 Veterans Moving Forward: Service Dogs Changing Veterans
Who they are: Veterans Moving Forward (VMF) is a charity located in Dulles, Virginia. They offer service dogs and canine therapy services at no cost to veterans who are struggling with physical or mental health issues.
Any veteran of any generation who served courageously, has physical or mental disabilities brought on by military operations, accidents, or diseases experienced during or after military service, resides in the continental United States, Hawaii, or Alaska, and can benefit from a service dog is eligible for VMF’s services.
What they do: VMF trains dogs to accompany veterans. Depending on a person’s disability, different duties by dogs must be completed. Among the chores for which dogs are trained to do are getting prescriptions, water bottles, or supplies, turning on/off lights, opening/closing doors, mobility tasks, seizure and/or medical alarms, and interrupting nightmares or PTSD. Service dog training begins at 8 weeks of age and lasts until the dog is put to work at 18 to 2 years of age.
Their impact: Service dogs provided by VMF have helped and are helping hundreds of veterans around the US. Amongst them are Maureen and her dog Prince.
Maureen was suggested by her primary care doctors to take on a service dog to help her enhance mobility and ground her brain. With the help of VMF, Prince came into Maureen’s life and helped her to become more active and keep her balance. Today, Maureen and Prince are best friends, spending most of the time together…
Ways to get involved: If you are passionate about making lives of veterans better you can sign up with VMF as a volunteer, or you can support them by donating.
#4 NVHS: Homeless Veteran Support
Who they are: National Veterans Homeless Support (NVHS) was founded in 2008 with a purpose of eliminating homelessness among veterans in Central Florida.
What makes them stand out from other charities is that they address homelessness where it occurs—on the streets of their neighborhood. In order to quickly transition from being homeless to having a place to live, they seek out their clients through street level outreach, meet their basic requirements to ensure their survival and connect them to any organizations that provide services that will benefit them.
What they do: NHVS conducts several programs. Their outreach program Search and Rescue consists of two parts: referral- and direct-contact-driven outreach for at-risk veterans and their families, and street outreach for unsheltered homeless veterans and their dependents. NHVS’s teams search the streets of neighborhoods for homeless veterans, provide their basic needs, such as food and outdoor equipment, and then connect them with the VA, housing organizations, and benefits application specialists to quickly house and support them.
Their PTSA program was created to provide post-traumatic stress awareness, action, and anonymity to persons who may be suffering from PTSD and to increase community awareness and education about PTSD. The charity also conducts a transitional housing program for formerly homeless veterans and their families.
Their impact: In around 10 years after their founding, NHVS helped reduce veteran homelessness in Central Florida by 88%. In the last 12 months, they assisted 462 veterans and their families and prevented homelessness of 90 veteran families.
Ways to get involved: NHVS provides many volunteering opportunities throughout the year. They are also supported through donations.
#5 Paralyzed Veterans of America: Voice of Veterans
Who they are: Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) were established in 1946. They offer specialized knowledge on a wide range of topics addressing the special requirements of their members, veterans of the military forces who have suffered spinal cord injury or dysfunction.
A group of service personnel who had spinal cord injuries and returned from World War II as civilians created PVA. These injured veterans choose to survive, but to live honorably as active members of society. They established PVA, a charity committed to assisting veterans as well as to conduct medical research, activism, and civil rights for all persons with disabilities.
What they do: PVA provides the most recent information on disability rights and assistance for housing, voting, travel, and other topics through their advocacy program. In addition to speaking out on Capitol Hill to increase rights and laws, the charity also works with government organizations like the Department of Justice to make sure that anti-discrimination legislation is put into place and upheld.
Veterans with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are a special focus of PVA. The charity assists them in navigating the nuances of coping with the illness. Besides these, PVA conducts many other programs such as veterans career program, accessible housing and women veterans’ support.
Their impact: PVA secured over 1 billion dollars for veterans and their families they represent. Just in 2020, the charity secured over 78 million dollars in earned benefits for veterans, paid in adaptive housing and car grants for veterans in 2020 over 78 thousand dollars, and disbursed over 948 thousand dollars in grants for research and education.
Ways to get involved: To support PVA, you can donate, join The Heroes Circle, sponsor an event, fundraise, donate clothing, or volunteer.
#6 Patton Veterans Project
Who they are: Patton Veterans Project was founded in 2011 by Ben Patton when he and a group of experienced filmmakers were invited to organize the veterans film workshop to the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Carson, CO, where hundreds of soldiers were receiving mental health therapy. Patton wondered if the process of working together to create visual narratives could benefit veterans returning from combat deployment as they sought to transition home and find their ‘’new norm’’. Soon after, he established the Patton Veterans Project as a charity to formally house the program.
Today, the charity’s goal is to assist veterans dealing with PTSD in reducing social isolation and enhancing ties to their families, communities, and workplaces.
What they do: Patton Veterans Project organizes and conducts intensive filmmaking workshops where veterans can work with peers to process their service experiences. They also include screening occasions that support community conversation, validate veterans’ perspectives, and inform the public about the mental health issues that veterans and military families face.
Their impact: More than 1.000 veterans, ranging in age from 18 to 80, were able to work together on more than 300 short films conveying their experiences thanks to the Patton Veterans Project, which has organized more than 50 film workshops at 8 military sites, VA hospitals, colleges, and private clinics in the US and Israel. Pre- and post-workshop surveys that the charity started administering to participants along the way show a significant reduction in PTS symptoms, particularly among those who indicate a PTSD diagnosis.
Ways to get involved: You can support the charity’s projects by donating directly through their website.
#7 Veterans Voices Writing Project (VVWP)
Who they are: VVWP was founded as an outreach initiative for World War II veterans. To help all veterans heal from their unseen mental and moral scars, the charity now offers therapeutic writing programs. Veterans who write about their innermost feelings and personal experiences can better control the symptoms of PTSD and lower their risk of suicide.
The VVWP’s goal is to help war veterans find comfort and fulfillment through their writing. They envision a world where readers will recognize the therapeutic and entertaining powers of literature.
What they do: Through VVWP’s projects veterans are encouraged to write down their thoughts and experiences and send their tales, essays, poems, and artwork to the VVWP office for consideration for publication in the magazine Veterans’ Voices. In addition to a three-times-yearly publication called Veterans’ Voices, VVWP is accessible online.
Veterans who write about their innermost feelings and personal experiences can better control the symptoms of PTSD and lower their risk of suicide. Additionally, they write for artistic expression. VVWP gives them the chance to collaborate with others in writing groups and publish their work. For individuals who served in the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf Wars, the program continues to do critical work. The effort is now more crucial than ever with the homecoming of wounded soldiers from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other recent conflicts.
Their impact: Since 1952, the VVWP program has published over 60,000 works by veterans and mailed copies to supporters, veterans’ and auxiliary organizations, libraries, and individuals across the US.
Ways to get involved: The help support the veterans’ voices being heard you can either donate to VVWP or sign up as a volunteer.
#8 Disabled Americans Veterans Charity (DAV): Life Changing Support for Those Who Served
Who they are: DAV is a charity committed to helping veterans lead respectable, dignified lives by giving them the tools they need. They do this by making sure that veterans and their families can take advantage of all the benefits that are available to them, advocating on Capitol Hill for the rights of injured veterans, and raising awareness among the general public about the enormous sacrifices made by veterans and their needs as they adjust to civilian life.
The charity defends the rights of injured veterans, their families, their widowed wives, and their orphans in front of the judicial branch, the White House, state and municipal governments, as well as Congress.
What they do: DAV has been a steadfast and significant defender of veterans’ rights and benefits for more than 100 years. They are devoted to advocating for America’s more than 4.7 million handicapped veterans, serving as their congressional representatives, and securing legislation that safeguards them and their families.
More than 100 offices across the US are part of DAV’s National Service Program, with a strong corps of national and transition service officers ready to provide guidance and represent veterans in their applications for the benefits they have earned through their service. They also assist veterans in achieving small and large personal wins like being able to support their families, end homelessness, complete their school, obtain access to necessary cash, and simply get together with other veterans to have fun.
Their impact: In 2021, DAV assisted 1.1 million veterans acting as their attorney and representing them for benefits claims. As a result, veterans received over 25 billion dollars in earned benefits.
Besides advocating for legislation that benefits veterans, more than 2.100 veterans affected by natural disasters, including as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and fires, received assistance from DAV in 2021 totaling almost 1.4 million dollars.
Ways to get involved: You can support DAV in transforming the lives of veterans by donating directly through their website.
#9 Veterans on the Rise
Who they are: Veterans on the Rise (VOTR) were founded by 4 veterans -Alfred Burley, Steve Middleton, Jay Chambers, and Phillip Spenser. In 1993, after becoming homeless himself, Burley teamed up with Middleton, Chambers, and Spencer to create a basic housing and support system for their fellow soldiers. VOTR has grown from their humble origins in West Virginia to become the comprehensive program it is now.
VOTR is committed to delivering a comprehensive system of care to combat veteran homelessness in the greater Washington, DC, area. According to the charity, no war veteran should be homeless near the monuments and memorials that were erected as a mark of respect for their sacrifice.
What they do: Veteran requirements are met holistically through VOTR’s case management strategy. They offer a variety of services, including transportation, life skills and employment training, medical and mental health treatment, and legal counsel. In order to help veterans, reintegrate into their communities, reclaim their dignity, and rebalance their lives, VOTR provides them with safe and comfortable living spaces, life-enriching activities, and encouragement.
The DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center refers homeless veterans to VOTR, which then places them in CERS. They provide 24 beds, 20 for men and 4 for women, for short-term emergency accommodation for up to 60 days. Veterans who are suffering from serious mental illness and are at the highest risk of homelessness can occupy one of VOTR’s 12 beds specifically designated for them.
Their impact: In 2020/21 VOTR supported 134 veterans through their CERS program, while 97 veterans affected by mental illnesses were supported based through their transitional housing program.
Ways to get involved: You can support VOTR in several ways-by volunteering, donating, or contributing with cash.
#10 Veterans Heritage Project: Building Character, Honoring Service
Who they are: By offering programs that celebrate veterans and preserve their heritage through experiential learning, Veterans Heritage Project helps students develop their character and sense of civic responsibility.
The Veterans Heritage Project allows students to develop ties with some of the US military heroes and realize their own potential. They have built a platform for empowering young adults, the US future leaders, by recognizing veterans. The charity’s aim is to guide next generations by the legacy of service, sacrifice, duty, and commitment left by veterans.
What they do: In order to serve as historical primary sources, the charity connects middle school, high school, and college students with military veterans who offer their first-hand accounts of fighting in World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and other U.S. conflicts.
The Veterans Heritage Projects supports school chapters all over the US with training sessions, how-to guides, instructional videos, on-site mentoring visits, outreach materials, links to veteran and civic groups, technology resources, reception materials, and more. Every year, they also award scholarships to students.
Their impact: By connecting students with veterans, the charity has helped 100% of student authors graduate, 95% to continue their education, 25% of veterans to express their stories for the first time, while 2/3 of veterans find the process therapeutic.
Ways to get involved: You can support the Veterans Heritage project by donating directly through their website.