Helping hands help veterans during this and every season

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By Attorney Tracey Ingle

As we near the end of the year thoughts inevitably turn to the holidays and questions of how one can help the less fortunate. Most of us are aware that cash donations are always welcome; the donation of a used car can bring a great tax break. But with a tight economy are there ways to help without giving away part of the household budget? This article gives you some ideas to help veterans with your time or talent, instead of or in addition to your treasure.

Veterans’ Hospitals — Most every veterans’ hospital and medical center is in need of volunteers. The commitment is usually something more than a one-time stop, but could be as infrequent as monthly, depending upon the service.

Volunteers help to feed spinal cord injury patients, staff information booths, help with transportation or just “Adopt-a-Veteran” and visit one-on-one with that person. With hospitals few and far between, veterans often find themselves without any local family or friends. These veterans benefit tremendously from the regular visits of volunteers.

For more information, go to www.va.gov, click on “Locations” in the top menu, then “Hospitals and Clinics.” From there you can navigate to your geographical location to see what volunteer opportunities are available.

New England Center for Homeless Veterans — It is just what it sounds like, a shelter for homeless veterans. Located at 17 Court St., Boston, near City Hall Plaza, the center provides hot meals and safe beds. Volunteer opportunities here might include ongoing administrative support, private tutoring or serving on committees. They maintain a Talent Bank for people to register special skills they are willing to share. Most appealing to many volunteers, though, is the opportunity to help serve meals. Lunch and dinner are served during the week, while weekends also offer a breakfast service. Learn more at www.nechv.org, and then click on “How to Help” in the top menu.

Homes for Our Troops — For the more ambitious among you, Homes for Our Troops is an amazing organization dedicated to building homes for post-9/11 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious injuries. They work in combination with the Department of Veterans Affairs and its grants to provide a newly built or renovated home to the veteran at no cost.

One of the few volunteer opportunities with a sister organization for children, Kids for Our Troops, it’s an entirely grassroots movement. Volunteer opportunities are mostly around fundraising; raise the money for a local hero and the organization will do the rest. They have built five homes locally and many more nationally. They also accept donations of labor from trades people, land, equipment or materials. Their websites are www.homesforourtroops.org and www.kidsforourtroops.org.

I hope this holiday season (or year round) you will consider helping our veterans. You can’t use the excuse of not having the money to give. As I’ve just shown, a gift of your time and energy would be most welcome.

Tracey Ingle is the Probate Puzzle Person and Principal of Ingle Law. She can be reached at 508-281-7900 or [email protected] or go online at http://www.inglelaw.com/. Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com.