If you have a friend or family member who was awarded the Purple Heart, today isn’t necessarily the day to buy a drink for him or her in hopes of hearing a detailed story about why they received it. Often, the Purple Heart commemorates the most terrifying day of someone’s life, so there may be painful and tragic memories associated with it.
Instead, think about how you can be of service to the greater community of America’s combat wounded troops. There are countless ways to get involved. While the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs provide resources, a number of gaps have widened as the roster of wounded has swelled. In addition to volunteering at a local USO center, the USO and its best-in-class partners are always looking for help by facilitating programs for wounded, ill and injured troops and their families along with the families of the fallen. Here are just a few of those offerings:
The Fisher House: The Fisher House provides free housing to wounded troops on the grounds of major military hospitals. With several families often staying at these homes together, volunteer services are often needed.
Ride 2 Recovery: USO/Ride 2 Recovery Challenge Rides test recovering troops’ endurance while allowing them to build camraderie. Visit their site to find a ride near you, where you can ride with the wounded or volunteer.
Hire Heroes USA: The USO, in collaboration with Hire Heroes USA, offers Transition Workshops and Career Opportunity Days (CODs) for wounded, ill and injured troops, spouses and caregivers. If you are an employer, you can participate by helping conduct mock interviews and provide feedback, providing an additional level of support for transitioning service members to meet with employers offering jobs.
You can learn more about these programs by visiting uso.org.
–Story by Joseph Andrew Lee, USO staff writer