Statistics show that there is a staggering 18.2 million veterans within the United States. The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report states that almost 40,000 veterans experience homelessness each night. This is just one of many examples that demonstrates the sheer number of veterans that require additional support in order to live comfortably within the U.S.A. While serving in the military, there is ample support available but once servicemen and women leave the force they can feel isolated and struggle to adapt to such a huge life change.
Transitioning into civilian life is a difficult process, fortunately there are structures in place to make this easier. It is important to know what support services are available and to make use of them when it is necessary. The most important thing is knowing that you are not alone and that there are organizations (there’s over 45,000 military and veteran nonprofits in the U.S) that can support you whether you require financial assistance, housing support, employment, education or more, there is support available. Use this guide to help you find the assistance you are looking for.
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Financial Benefits & Support
Leaving the military and then finding work outside of the forces can be a challenge, particularly with the current state of the job market. Struggling to find work can put a huge amount of financial pressure on you and can leave you at risk of homelessness. If you are unable to pay your bills or are in need of financial assistance, the following organizations may be able to provide you with some support:
- Government – the government has a range of support programs available. They have a federal financial assistance program that is geared towards supporting veterans. However, some veterans are not eligible for the government support or cannot get the amount of support they truly need from government sources. Fortunately, there are countless organizations outside of the government that may be able to provide you with the help you are looking for. Below are some key organizations that you may want to contact:
- The National Association of American Veterans – this is a great resource that lists what support and financial benefits are available to veterans.
- The American Veterans Foundation – offers emergency services for veterans
- The US Soldiers Foundation – offers advice and help to veterans
- USA Cares – offers emergency grants to assist with everyday bills
- Modest Needs – provides short-term financial assistance to those in temporary crisis. Particularly useful for individuals and families who are ineligible for government assistance but are a paycheck or two away from financial collapse and eventual homelessness.
- Operation Family Fund – offers financial grants to meet personal, short term and long term living needs including food, rent, emergency trasport, legal expenses, medical expenses etc.
- Operation First Response – helps families and individuals going through financial hardship.
The above organizations will be able to provide you with emergency grants and relief to help you pay your bills and afford everyday living but you may also be struggling with debt. According to a study, former military personnel carry more debt but have fewer assets than the average civilian. If you are concerned about debt, the following organizations may be able to assist:
- InCharge – non-profit organization that helps military personnel who are financially struggling due to debt
- org – although not exclusively for veterans, this debt advice service has policies related specifically to veterans
- com – helps veterans gain control over their debt with practical advice on paying it off bit by bit
The government offer VA pension benefits for wartime veterans who meet the age and disability requirements and have little or no income. They also offer an Aid and Attendance benefit that is available for those who need help with daily activities.
When serving in the military, military housing is supplied but when somebody leaves the service they will also move out of the military housing. This can be a huge change and the aforementioned homeless statistics give us an indication of how many veterans struggle with housing. There are many types of support available when it comes to housing so be sure to make use of them.
- The government offers housing assistance that can help veterans buy a home (or refinance a loan) as well as build, repair or keep an existing home. There are grants available for disabled veterans who need to make adaptations to their home in order to increase their independence and wellbeing. Government programs include:
- VA direct or VA-backed home loan- the eligibility of this loan is based on your service history and duty status
- Disability Housing Grants for Veterans – offers financial help to allow you to make the relevant changes to your home
- Red Cross – Red Cross can provide financial assistance as well as urgent health and welfare services including food and shelter.
- Volunteers of America – they provide support services and affordable housing to veterans and their families. They offer rapid rehousing, interim housing, transitional housing, permanent housing and more.
- Homes for our Troops – this organization builds mortgage free housing and specially adapted houses. They also offer to adapt existing homes to improve handicap accessibility.
- Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing – this program provides rental assistance for veterans who are homeless. They also provide clinical services.
- SSVF – they provide supportive services including healthcare, financial planning, daily living, legal and childcare services to low-income veterans and families living in or transitioning to permanent housing.
- Homeless Veteran Stand Downs – these are events of up to three days that provide food, shelter, clothing, health screenings and more to homeless veterans.
Education and Training
Veterans and their families may be interested in education or training programs but the cost of these can cause them to be out of reach. Thanks to the following organizations you, or your family, can enjoy education and training services that can improve your career transition, future prospects and make employment outside of the military more achievable.
- The government offers education and training benefits that can help veterans and family members by assisting in finding the right program, offering career counselling and helping individuals afford to pay college tuition. They also offer veteran-owned small business support.
- Folds of Honor offer post-secondary educational scholarships, they can be applied for now or can be held on behalf of young children until the time of enrollment. The scholarship can help to pay tuition fees, books, room, board, tools and equipment etc.
- Military Scholarships – offers scholarships to military children.
- Volunteers of America – in addition to the housing support we mentioned earlier, VoA also offer employment services including assessment, training and placement as well as compensated work programs.
- Hope for the Warriors – offers career transition and education programs.
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) – offers health, employment and education support for new veterans.
- Thanks USA – offers college, technical and vocational scholarships to families of serving military personnel.
Health Care & Disability Compensation
Covering health costs is a big cause of stress and instability for many veterans, particularly those who have been injured in the line of duty. Below are some key organizations that offer assistance to injured veterans.
The government provide health care to veterans that covers the costs of regular checkups and specialist appointments. Other available services include home health and geriatric care, medical equipment, prescriptions and prosthetics. The government also provides compensation to disabled veterans in the form of a monthly tax-free payment. This compensation is available for physical and mental health conditions that developed before, duration or after service.
- The Wounded Warrior Project – specializes in providing assistance to injured veterans
- Disabled American Veterans – provides assistance to veterans who have been injured while serving in the armed forces
- Paralyzed Veterans of America – offers assistance to those who have been seriously injured while serving in the military
- Hope for the Warriors – this organization has a goal of enhancing the quality of life for service members and families who have been impacted by injury or death in the line of duty. Assistance includes immediate needs, family assistance and ‘warriors wish’.
Mental Health Support
Physical injury is often talked about when it comes to veterans but mental health is just as important. A large number of veteran’s struggle with their mental health after serving in the armed forces due to the nature of the work and life of serving. Transitioning into civilian life is often a huge culture shock and can be difficult to adapt to. The following organizations may be worth contacting if you are looking for support regarding your mental health and adjustment into civilian life.
- After Deployment – a wellness resource that offers support to veterans who are struggling to adjust to life outside of the military
- PTSD Alliance – this is an alliance between five organizations that specialize in offering a full spectrum of support, information and care to people suffering from PTSD
- The American Psychological Association – offer insight into the psychological wounds veterans experience, the mental health needs of veterans and the role of health service psychologists
- PTSD Anonymous – a nationwide network of community based support groups for those suffering from military trauma.
If you are in need of urgent support, call the numbers below:
- NVF Lifeline for Vets – 1-888-777-4443
- Veteran Crisis Line – 1-800-273-8255
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
- Stop Soldier Suicide – 1.800.273.8255#1
Other Support Options
There are a wide range of organizations available that provide a mixture of services, the following organizations provide services we have not covered but may be of interest to you:
- Feed Our Vets – Assists more than 20,000 veterans and their families by providing free food
- XSportf4Vets – use extreme sports as a way of meeting others and take the edge off of the transition to civilian life.
- Next Step Service Dogs – use service dogs to help veterans with PTSD and TBI.
- Veterans Legal Institute – offers pro bono legal assistance to low income and homeless veterans
- Recycled Rides – a program designed to help ease the burden of transportation on veterans by providing refurbished vehicles.
Summary of Benefits
While the government is a great place to start when you are looking for support, it is not the only resource available. If the government isn’t able to provide you with the assistance you require, do not become disheartened. There are thousands of organizations that are equipped and capable of helping you in whatever way you require.
So many veterans are struggling because they do not know what support is available to them. Transitioning from the armed forces to civilian life is tough, the least we can do is make the switch easier for these brave veterans. We have tried to cover the main areas of assistance but if you are looking for something specific, we recommend you head over to the government VA site or the National Association of American Veterans as these are both good places to find out more about the resources that are available. If you are in need, please do not hesitate to contact these organizations for assistance, they will be able to help you get back on your feet.