If you have a friend, family member, or neighbour transitioning back to civilian life from time in the military, it can sometimes be confusing to know how to best help that person adjust to life back at home. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to help veterans feel welcome and ready to find new paths in life once they’ve made the jump to civilian life; here are just a few ways that you can help the veterans closest to you, and make new friends (or strengthen old friendships) in the process.
1. Help a Veteran Find Work
One of the most difficult aspects of transitioning from life as a soldier to life as a civilian lies in adjusting to the differences in work expectations. These days, jobs aren’t always easy to find, and networking can often help the right candidate find their dream job. With help from friends, neighbours, and relatives, veterans can find a position that brings them happiness and the social support that is crucial to post-military life. If you know a company who is hiring or have friends in your network who can keep a lookout for job openings, see if you might be able to help a veteran find a job they’ll do great at.
2. Invite a Veteran to Dinner
Who doesn’t enjoy a dinner party where stimulating conversation, a chance to share fond memories, and enjoy great food are the order of the day? One of the greatest ways to show veterans in your life that you care is by creating a nice dinner party for them. They’ll not only appreciate the effort, but they’ll also enjoy the opportunity to get to know you better. Best of all, it will also be a great chance for you to give a veteran thanks for their service to the country, and show off a few great recipes to boot!
3. Offer to Buy Them a Pet
With more and more studies showing that pets such as dogs and cats can help veterans overcome many symptoms of conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you might just check and see if a veteran in your life would enjoy becoming the owner of a new puppy or kitten. Chances are, many veterans will jump at the chance to meet a new fuzzy friend, and it might just make the tough transition to civilian life a bit easier.
4. Take Them Shopping
While most vets won’t say it, they can often use a bit of extra help with the little things in life when first making the transition back to civilian routines, especially if jobs are scarce or families are trying to save money while looking for a new job. By offering to take a military family or veteran to the grocery store and get some much needed supplies for them, you’ll be doing vets and their families a great service!
5. Lend an Ear
Sometimes the best way to help other people is simply by being there when they need to be heard, and this is especially true for veterans. The transition to civilian life can be stressful for many vets, and giving them the time they need to get their frustrations off of their chests can be a great way to help strengthen your friendship and help a vet feel better. It’s important to remember how much the gift of our time can mean to veterans!
6. Introduce Them to New Friends
After being away on duty for a long time, many veterans may come home to find that most of their close friends are still serving in the military, and that new friends sometimes can’t quite relate to the experience of military service. By throwing a nice get together for the veteran in your life, you can help introduce them to new friends and get a new start in civilian life!
7. Offer to Babysit for a Night
Sometimes it can be difficult for military families to get quiet time, and there’s nothing quite like the offer of babysitting on a Friday or Saturday night to let veterans get a nice meal and catch a movie and just get time to unwind. Babysitting will also be a great way to strengthen your bonds with the veteran in your life.
For these reasons, helping veterans and their families transition to civilian life doesn’t have to be a difficult process; in fact, few things are as rewarding in life as showing veterans that you appreciate their service to the country. Making a new life in the civilian world isn’t always easy for vets, but we can help them to get a new start and a bright future. And that is helping veterans at its best!
Samantha Tung handles online media relations for Caliber Collision. She regularly produces content for a variety of lifestyle and automotive blog.