Veteran Nonprofits: The Backbone of Military Transition to Civilian Life
by Megan Thatford
Feeling lost? Nonprofits have your back. And the resources you need to get on track.
Leaving the military service and assuming the new title of Veteran is a major life change. Relocation, job hunting, family duties, and overwhelming emotion are accepted parts of the transition. The team element has faded. You are very much on your own to “figure it out” as a civilian. Or at least that is how it can feel to many.
The reality is you don’t have to go through it alone. There are over 45,000 nonprofits that offer a variety of support to Veterans at any stage in life. Many of them fill the gaps between VA service or TRICARE or provide emotional support through camaraderie and brotherhood that is scarce post-separation. Their dedicated mission is to support the Veteran and their families.
Everyone in the military community has been exposed to a handful of nonprofits during their career. Understanding their value is one thing, but accepting the support they offer is completely different. With so many organizations out there, it can be intimidating to figure out the right place to turn. And know this: engaging with nonprofits as a recipient of their services can have a profound impact on your life.
The hundreds of rehabilitative events, transition resources, and mental health services offered by nonprofits are for YOU. These organizations were founded to help solve a problem or address an unmet need, often driven by personal experience and a hell of a lot of passion.
Recipient testimonials validate the need for these organizations, even from those most skeptical or reluctant to accept aid. The reality is nonprofits are a crucial part of the Veteran community and are eager to give back. They want to help you.
During an interview with the Veterans Project, Medal of Honor Recipient Leroy Petry remarked on the topic of vocational assistance during reintegration saying, “There are enough organizations out there that you can get the help you need wherever you’re at in life. Those organizations are not going to just give handouts, but they’re absolutely going to show you how to become whole again.”
Now more than ever, these services are needed to support Veterans. While the military community is experiencing the same anxiety, seclusion, and hopelessness, like many Americans, there are circumstances and stressors that are unique to this community. There are things that the general public cannot relate to that Veteran service organizations do, because it is their area of expertise.
Consider situations like the families that are anticipating a PCS that have complications with their lease. Individuals that are transitioning into a civilian career in a jobless market. Warfighters that are accustomed to regular deployments and being homebound with family is a significant adjustment.
These are major stressors that should not be downplayed, and to which there are many organizations out there designed to help. They have resources. They have compassion. They WANT to help.
Part of what makes the United States military so effective is written into the Warrior Ethos; I will never leave a fallen comrade. That spirit of brotherhood bonds the community through a set of shared experiences and struggles. These experiences make Veterans and those close to the issues uniquely qualified and effective at addressing the need. Nonprofit work is the next mission for many and it is inspired by the commitment to the fellow Veteran.
There is no need to feel alone.
And if you’re reading this and don’t require support, but you want to give back, find a way to volunteer. Your experience adds tremendous value to organizations.
Finally, anyone can help. Take the time to do simple things such as reach out to a friend to check-in and ask what support they need. You can even be the catalyst for connecting them with a nonprofit that can offer additional support.
Want to find an organization that is the right fit for you? Start with Charity Navigator, a database of reputable organizations. Your Care Coalition advocate or Recovery Care Coordinator can also locate a program.
Whether you are looking to connect with a nonprofit organization that’s right for you, or you want to volunteer and make a difference, start the process today-you won’t regret it!
Megan Thatford is a patriotic civilian, connector, and the CEO and Founder of Minot Marketing. She is committed to furthering the mission of military nonprofits. Megan is hell-bent on maintaining the relevancy of Veteran organizations and encouraging collaboration within the charitable space. She is especially passionate about the Functional Medicine approach to wellness for the warfighter community and increasing awareness of the innovative methodologies for treatment available for Veterans. Megan believes inspiration is a circular reference and is grateful for the opportunity to serve the military community.
© 2020 The Havok Journal