This Sunday, November 11th, is Veterans Day. There are hundreds of organizations that work with veterans listed on Idealist; some are very small and focused on fixing one particular problem while others encompass hundreds of employees and touch the lives of thousands of veterans.
With over 200,000 members, the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) is one of the largest veteran organizations in the country. Membership is free for vets, and by joining you gain access to IAVA’s health, education, and employment programs, not to mention events held across the country.
If you’re looking for something more local, almost every state has a veteran’s association of its own. In Texas there is the Lone Star Veterans Association, which helps vets transition back to civilian life and also organizes Operation Lone Star Santa every Christmas. In San Francisco you can look up the Coming Home Project, which provides retreats, counseling, and community programs.
Although large associations are great, there is always room for smaller projects with unique ideas. One of the most specialized veteran orgs on Idealist is Racing4Vets, which offers racing programs in Mason, Ohio. Whether training with go-carts or race-cars, Racing4Vets helps veterans have fun and gain valuable skills in the process.
If you’re not into speed, check out the Veteran Artist Program in Arlington, Virginia. Founded by three men from different military branches (Army, Marines, Navy) the VAP disproves the belief that the military and the arts don’t mix. Any interested vet can contact the VAP and get involved in theater, painting, filmmaking, and much more.
Interested in art, but not ready to take a brush to canvas? Visit the Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, which displays pieces made or inspired by our men and women in uniform.
Finally, if you’ve ever owned a dog, you know what a comfort man’s best friend can be in times of trouble. Perhaps for that reason, there are several nonprofits that match returning veterans with their own pooch. At K9’s for Warriors in Ponte Vedra, Florida, dogs from shelters are paired with veterans that have suffered from traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. In Oregon, Paws Assisting Veterans (PAVE) performs the same service. Pets for Patriots in Long Island includes cats, if you are not a fan of canines.
This Sunday, if you know a veteran, make sure to let them know you appreciate their service. If you are a veteran, relax. You’ve earned it.