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How To Support Veterans and Service Members

Veterans have given much to their country, so it's only right to give back however you can. Whether they're retired or currently serving, it's important that service members have the support they need to thrive. Here are some practical ways you can help the military member in your life succeed.

Make Sure They Make It Home

Depending on their circumstances, service members may be searching for a new home, or they may require modifications to their current home. In either case, veterans may need assistance with finding all the real estate-related benefits available to them. VA home loans, federal loans for qualified veterans, can be used toward payment for a new home or for repairs and adaptations to an existing home. These loans have very low interest rates and limited closing costs, and they can be used multiple times throughout the veteran's life. Special grants are also available to disabled veterans in California to provide home modifications for more independent living.

Open Up Shop

Starting a business as a veteran is a great way to take advantage of the many opportunities and freedoms post-military life affords. However, lots of administrative tasks are involved with entrepreneurship. You can help by gathering the documentation necessary to register the business as a legal entity and by looking into small business loans and grants for veterans.

Back to Class

Much like starting a business, earning a college degree can significantly improve veterans' earning potential. While higher education comes at a cost, there are programs designed to defray the financial burden for service members. One is the GI Bill, which is administered by the federal government and can be used for undergraduate, graduate, or other training programs. California also offers veterans financial assistance to complete their education at qualifying state schools and community colleges.

Of course, not all degrees are equal, so make sure the service member chooses one that leads to gainful employment. Encourage them to consider an online program for a degree in computer science or information technology, both of which require strong math and quantitative skills. Other lucrative degrees include nursing, which may be ideal for a service member who has a medical background.

Give Them a Helping Paw

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is unfortunately quite prevalent among veterans who have seen combat, with an estimated 10 to 20% suffering from the condition. Injuries are also common for those who served, and this reality can make working and completing everyday tasks much more difficult.

For these reasons, some veterans may benefit from having a service animal that can help them navigate civilian life and overcome ongoing mental, emotional, or physical challenges stemming from their service. A trained and certified service dog can support the veteran by retrieving items, providing comfort, and summoning help when necessary. You can support by attending training sessions, offering financial contributions, and helping the veteran and dog get acclimated to their new roles as partners.

Meet Them Where They Are

Each service member is unique, and their situations can vary greatly. However, almost all can benefit from the support and assistance of a caring loved one.

Rhonda Underhill