11 ways to help a vet on Veterans Day and beyond

Posted Monday, Nov. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Veterans Day annually falls on Nov. 11 — a day to honor all of those who have served or are still serving in the U.S. military. There are many ways for families with kids of all ages to say thank you and give back to our men and women in uniform.

The local need is great; according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Texas has the second-largest veteran population in the country. Here are 11 ways parents and children can honor and help retired, active and non-active military personnel on Nov. 11 and throughout the year.

1. TCU Veterans Week Wall of Honor

Texas Christian University in Fort Worth will host several Veterans Week events that are open to the public, including a moment of silence on Sadler Lawn at 11 a.m. Monday and walks with local veterans.

Through Friday, the Wall of Honor will be displayed at the Brown-Lupton University Union and TCU Library. It will include photos and stories of veterans and active-duty service members provided by the Fort Worth community. Visitors can read the stories of local heroes and write cards to send to the troops.

Sadler Hall lawn is at 2900 S. University Drive; the library, at 2905 S. University Drive; and the University Union, at 2901 Stadium Drive. A detailed campus map that includes visitor parking lots can be found at maps.tcu.edu. For more information, call 817-257-5551.

2. Operation Gratitude Candy Buyback

Operation Gratitude is a national nonprofit organization based at the Army National Guard armory in Van Nuys, Calif. It sends care packages to service members overseas and has partnered with local dentists’ offices to collect Halloween candy.

Through Thursday, drop off your family’s leftover candy at Doctor Randy A. Parham’s office, located at 1612 Pennsylvania Ave. in Fort Worth. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday.

Operation Gratitude will also include dental care products in the care packages. Those who donate candy will receive a thank-you bag of dental goodies. For more information, visit http://www.operationgratitude.com/.

3. Holiday Mail for Heroes

The American Red Cross collects holiday cards from October through December every year to deliver to active-duty service members, military families and veterans.

Host a holiday card party with your friends and send the cards to the Red Cross by Dec. 6 this year. Greetings can be sent to Holiday Mail for Heroes, Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456.

Guidelines and other ways to contribute can be found at www.redcross.org/support/get-involved/holiday-mail-for-heroes.

4. North Texas Veterans Affairs Healthcare

The VA provides healthcare services for veterans and is always in need of volunteer support, whether you can offer your time, items or funds.

In Fort Worth, the Outpatient Clinic relies on volunteers to provide transportation, act as greeters, give out information and more. Personal care items, clothing and entertainment are among items on the list of needs.

To get involved with the Fort Worth Outpatient Clinic Voluntary Service or its sister organization in Dallas, visit http://www.northtexas.va.gov/giving/ or call the office at 214-857-0428.

5. Hero Miles Program

When a service member is injured or ill and treated at the VA medical center, family members can stay at a Fisher House Foundation home to be nearby. There are seven in Texas, including the VA North Texas Health Care System in Dallas.

The Hero Miles Program assists families and close friends in traveling, through a partnership with several airlines. Donate your frequent-flier miles to this program by visiting http://www.fisherhouse.org/programs/hero-miles/.

6. Support Our Soldiers

Support Our Soldiers is a Fort Worth-based nonprofit that brings the community together to show love to service members. Volunteers send monthly care packages and holiday cards overseas, as well as providing necessities for family members at home, particularly baby products.

If you are interested in donating items, cash or time, view the requested items list and guidelines at http://supportoursoldier.com or call the group at 817-551-2908.

7. Grace After Fire

Grace After Fire is based in Fort Worth and serves as a support system for female veterans. The organization’s main function is a peer-support system called Table Talk, in which female veterans can talk about their experiences and help each other.

Grace also assists women in finding employment, builds homes and aids in the transition to civilian life. Volunteers —both veterans and civilians — can sign up and express interest through the form at http://www.graceafterfire.org/.

8. Wheels Helping Warriors Vehicle Donation Program

The Paralyzed Veterans of America was chartered in 1946 specifically to address the needs of veterans who have experienced spinal cord injury or dysfunction.

Donate your old vehicle, motorcycle, camper, airplane or boat to benefit the Texas chapter of this organization. Wheels Helping Warriors will pick up the vehicle, regardless of condition and free of charge. It will be sold and the funds will benefit the organization.

Visit www.wheelshelpingwarriors.org or call 855-744-0782 to start the process. Be sure you have the vehicle title on hand.

9. Homes for Our Troops

This organization builds houses for veterans injured in combat. Each home is specially adapted to meet the service member’s needs and is provided at no cost to them.

Volunteers are needed to help in all stages of construction, as well as in non-construction positions. To see local projects and sign up, create an account and fill out a volunteer interest form at www.hfotusa.org/tx.

10. Support Our Troops

Support Our Troops is a nonprofit group in Denton’s Robson Ranch active-adult living community. The group packs and mails monthly care packages to troops overseas.

For 2013, it has focused on the 860-plus members of the Task Force medical personnel in Afghanistan. Support Our Troops has a large team of volunteers who live in the community, but it appreciates financial support to cover postage costs.

Robson Ranch volunteers are also available to help schools and other groups seeking assistance in preparing packages to ship. More information can be found at www.supportourtroopstexas.com/.

11. United Way Tarrant County Veterans Fund

For families that simply want to make a cash donation to an organization that supports veterans, United Way started the Veterans Fund to provide community services like counseling and employment assistance to those returning to civilian life.

The fund was created in February with a $300,000 donation from Lockheed Martin and Bell Helicopter Textron, and has since more than doubled. See how the money is put to use and start the donation process at www.unitedwaytarrant.org/tags/veterans.

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