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As a U.S. Marine Corps veteran myself, I wanted to use my first blog post of 2023 to offer some ideas for ways you can support U.S. military veterans throughout this new year. 

The states that I serve—Mississippi, home to over 180,000 military veterans, and Tennessee, with over 470,000 veterans—both have a higher percentage of veterans in their population than the national rate. Many veterans are over 65, disabled and/or on a fixed income, making their situations even more difficult. 

With that in mind, here are several ways to make a difference in the lives of veterans in your community.

Donate to a food pantry supporting veterans.

Many veterans, especially those living on disability or retirement income, are at risk of going hungry. All local food pantries help fill the gap. If you’re near Jackson, Miss., the Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center is home to Mississippi’s first veteran-specific food pantry, which provides healthy food options to veterans who receive care at the facility and qualify for SNAP. Find their address and contact information here

Help build a house for a veteran.

Habitat for Humanity’s Veterans Build program—which builds homes for veterans, offers educational programming and employees veterans—has served over 6,600 veterans and their families since 2013. Visit their website to find a local volunteer opportunity, make a donation or learn more about this vital program. 

Another organization, Homes For Our Troops, focuses on building “specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives. This high-rated charity organization has built over 340 of these homes and welcomes volunteers and donations.

Give a veteran a ride, or your car.

The Volunteer Transportation Network connects volunteers with veterans who can’t drive to receive VA services, such as medical appointments, in privately or government-owned vehicles. Visit their website to learn more about giving your time. 

While your car won’t directly go to a veteran, the nonprofit Vehicles for Veterans takes donations of vehicles in any condition. The money from the sale of vehicles goes directly to supporting disabled veterans.

Donate to organizations that support and advocate for veterans.

There are many other organizations that help veterans every day and are always looking for volunteers and donations to keep their work going. 

The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, for instance, advocates for policies to house veterans and manages a helpline for veterans in need, while Operation Stand Down Tennessee offers hands-on crisis support services to veterans in need in their state.