5 Things to Know About Helping Military Veterans and Their Families

by Rachel McQuiston, MVRC Board Member

Many military and veteran families struggle due to unemployment/underemployment, medical/disability issues, and unexpected emergencies.  Many individuals seek ways to help during the holiday season, but the needs don’t always end with the holidays.   MVRC is proud of the work our local organizations do to provide for our families all year round, with little fanfare or recognition.  As we go into 2015, we want to reflect on some things potential donors should be mindful of when giving care to our military and veteran families.

1. If you can, give.  If you can’t, it’s okay.

In 2014, we heard from several individuals who expressed guilt that they were not able to help others in need due to their current situations.  The overwhelming generosity is always encouraging, but do not ever feel that you have to give when it’s not financially feasible for you!

2. Give and act locally.

There are some great national organizations who are helping our military and veteran families and we would never tell anyone not to support those groups.  But in 2015, we hope that you consider giving some of your gifts to local groups, where more of your money will go to directly assist families in your own community and state.

3. Ask before you give.

Whenever making donations, always ask:

  • How much of my money goes to administrative overhead (office rent, salaries, etc.) and how much goes to directly help a military or veteran family?
  • Does my donation go to a national organization or does it stay in my community/state?
  • What exactly does this organization do with my donation – what programs do they operate, what services do they provide?
  • Have I done enough research to really understand this organization or am I just reacting to a touching TV commercial?

4. Give of your time, not just your money.

Budgets sometimes are tight and not everyone can always make monetary donations.  Instead, consider donating your time.  Local organizations always have special projects and events that would be much easier with some extra hands.  Look for new and different ways to give in 2015.

5. Different situations require different responses.

Some families make life decisions that result in chronically never having enough.  Others work very hard, but fall on difficult times due to unexpected job loss, medical emergencies and other events. Support organizations have to make difficult decisions as to when to assist with a genuine emergency, and when to advise a family to turn instead to government agencies and non-profits who specifically assist those with more chronic needs.

Many thanks to each of you who support military and veteran families.  We hope 2015 will be a great year for all of us dedicated to that mission.

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