The majority of veterans in our country today – about 11 million – are over age 50. What these men and women share – experiences, memories, traumas – is unique to them, and often those experiences can be challenging to talk about with those who haven’t served in the military. This is why meeting other vets through community clubs and local chapters of large organizations – as well as in online groups – could make such a big difference in a veteran’s life.
If you’re caring for a veteran, reach out to organizations and support groups that can help your loved one connect to others who share their history.
Organizations for Veterans
The American Legion is dedicated to preserving the respect and acknowledgment veterans deserve from their communities. Veterans who get involved with the American Legion will be with others who’ve served in wars. Older vets can reminisce with people their age, but they can also mentor younger veterans who need guidance and help with job searches and adjusting to civilian life. The legion also advocates for memorials and remembrances, bringing closure to vets.
Disabled American Veterans
If your loved one was wounded and is disabled, Disabled American Veterans is an excellent group to connect with if they’re in your area. Local chapters advocate for legislation changes, do volunteer work in the community and organize meetups and social activities. In addition, DAV groups often have ceremonial inductions for new members, which makes the organization feel unique and special—and makes vets feel that way, too.
Vietnam Veterans of America
According to the VA’s Veteran Population Projection Model, 6.1 million Vietnam veterans are alive today, and all the living Vietnam vets are over the age of 65. The Vietnam Veterans of America has more than 85,000 members and 650 chapters, and the group works to provide “a community of fellowship with people who share your experiences, needs, and hopes for the future.” Encourage your loved one who fought in Vietnam to get involved in a local chapter of VVA.
Wounded Warrior Project
Some veterans come home far more physically and emotionally scarred than others. The Wounded Warrior Project’s mission is to help those veterans who face enormous challenges find their way back to a civilian life that’s rewarding and satisfying. If your loved one is fortunate to have served without experiencing any traumatic injuries, volunteering for the Wounded Warrior Project will allow them to connect with other veterans while doing good for those who need help the most.
Additional organizations that serve specific groups
- Jewish War Veterans of the United States
- Transgender American Veterans Association
- Women Veterans Alliance
Activities and social media for veterans
The online veterans’ community has a solid and growing presence that keeps veterans connected worldwide. In addition, online groups are helpful for those seniors who have a hard time getting out or have mobility challenges.
- Gulf War Veterans: This private group has nearly 20,000 members.
- PTSD Survivors of America: This group’s mission is to educate, provide assistance and help promote awareness regarding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Support for Spouses and Caregivers of Veterans: According to its page, “This group is for spouses and caregivers (family and friends) of veterans. This is a place where you can get support from other members/ask questions/talk about problems, talk about celebrations. This is a safe place where we are all here to support each other.”
- World War II Veterans’ Memories: On this page, WWII veterans share their stories and talk about their memories of the war.
StoryCorps is an organization that encourages veterans to share their experiences for future generations to hear their words. They record the stories and work with community organizations to reach out to veterans to participate.
Veterans Radio Show
Maybe your veteran would like to tell the story of their wartime experiences to the world. The Veterans Radio Show allows veterans to do just that. Your senior veteran can sign up on the website to participate in the show.
Help for caregivers
If you’re caring for a disabled veteran, make sure to check you’re getting every benefit available to you and your senior by visiting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where you can get information about The Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.