This week we celebrate our veterans, we pause, reflect, and appreciate that these people were willing to risk it all, for us. Veteran’s Day is not only a day off from work but also a chance to talk about them and think about how we can now give back to them! When you think of our veterans you may think that they have everything covered as our government thanks them for their service, but they don’t. Many veterans have needs that are not being met, leaving some without the proper care, support, and even basic needs, and that’s not ok. The health and wellness of our Veterans matter.
Here in the NEK, it’s not every day you see a service member in uniform, and we don’t have a local military base in sight. You might not even know where the local armory or even Veterans Affairs clinic is located. And because of this, you may think that we don’t have service people and veterans in our community, and that’s not true! We have veterans in the NEK, we have active military, we have military families, and more! We also have veterans who are homeless or shut-ins, we have veterans who are financially, emotionally, and physically struggling and they need our help!
We have many local agencies and groups working to support our Veterans, but they can’t do it alone. Maybe you can help at your workplace? Can you try to interview more Veterans looking for employment? Can you offer EAP and other services to working Veterans? Maybe you can help in your free time, do you think you and some friends could take turns helping deliver meals with the NEK Council on Aging so that our Veterans who are homebound don’t go hungry? Maybe you can help with your clubs or churches? Could you raise money, collect items, or invite veterans to join you for meetings, services, meals, or fellowship? Maybe you can teach your kids about the importance of veterans and make cards to bring to the nursing homes. Could you reach out to our Rural Community Transportation services to see if you can help drive our veterans to their appointments? Would you be willing to share some of your money with recovery services for our veterans who struggle with addiction? Lastly, could you offer your time to hear a veteran’s story, to thank them for their service? We all want to be seen, heard, and validated for who we are and what we bring to this world. Our veterans all have a story, stories that need to be told. Those stories may reveal how we can help.
Veterans are an integral part of any community, but especially ours. We know that when one area of our community is struggling or unhealthy, it affects us all. We also know that we can help each other to have access to the things we need to be healthy in our mind, body, and spirit, and veterans are no different in their need to feel the same. According to The Housing Assistance Council and their facts on Veterans in Vermont, 2.3% are unemployed, 5.8% are living in poverty, and almost 20% are living with disabilities, including physical and mental disparities like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The National Library of Medicine shares that over 1.8 million of our Veterans have no healthcare coverage. And while we may not personally be able to give them that, there is so much we can give.
Our veterans were willing to risk their lives for us. Their families had to sacrifice the precious moments at home and in life that we take for granted, so their loved ones could serve. It’s now our chance to help serve them. You can help by talking and raising awareness, you can share information on social media and in your social circles, and you can volunteer to deliver meals or help drive veterans to appointments. You can donate money, glasses, food, and other needed items to our veterans too. We all have something we can do to help support and show care to the ones who did that for us. We can all do something to make this community healthier for our veterans because healthy veterans matter!
Director of The Wellness Center