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War is hell. We all know this, but no one knows it better than a veteran who has seen it personally. Those who have done their patriotic duty and are now returning home often end up feeling a new type of culture shock they didn't expect.
More specifically, a lot of veterans have a very hard time re-integrating into society. They often can't get used to civilian interactions. Things that used to seem so major end up being totally miniscule. Finding a job can even prove to be harder than you'd expect.
Sound familiar? Resources are available—and the best resources for veterans returning home will be able to give you the help you need to live a life after the military.
Volunteers of America
For decades, Volunteers of America has been helping the nation's most vulnerable get their lives together—and yes, that includes veterans. In fact, the military regularly cites them as one of the best resources for soldiers returning home.
VOA offers housing, emergency support, PTSD counseling, as well as employment training to veterans who need help getting back into the swing of civilian life.
Volunteers of America has posts throughout the country. You can also call their main office in Virginia at (703) 341-5000.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
Founded in 2004 as a way to help support veterans who have been fighting the War on Terror, the IAVA has been one of the biggest sources of support and camaraderie to veterans who have been suffering from war-related PTSD.
Both a social group and a career empowerment group, the IAVA stands 420,000 members strong. If you're looking to meet friends who "get it," this is the place to start. You even can get one-on-one support from a fellow vet using their service.
If you're looking for a simple way to get help with PTSD or just find companionship, the IAVA is a great place to start.
Check out the IAVA website to find out how you can get help.
National Association of American Veterans (NAAV)
Another fairly new group to be called one of the best resources for soldiers returning home is the National Association of American Veterans. Founded 2005, NAAV's specialty is connecting veterans who have faced serious losses due to combat with resources that will help them live a normal life.
If you need counseling due to PTSD or just need to find out how to get the military benefits owed to you, NAAV is the place to go. This group is known for offering a network of healthcare professionals and government resources to veterans who need it the most.
The National Association of American Veterans can be reached online.
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
Ever since 1899, the VFW has been one of the best resources for veterans returning home from foreign wars. This is a national organization with outposts in almost every major city, all dedicated to providing the basics for veterans who are down on their luck.
Their work includes lobbying for better veteran benefits, providing grants for family members, offering homeless veterans shelter, as well as civilian life transition assistance. Even military wives will find some help at the VFW.
Check the VFW site to find out where the nearest outpost is.
American Veterans (AMVETS)
American Veterans, also known as AMVETS, has become one of the best resources for veterans returning home without any help available to them. AMVETS has tons of National Service Officers (NSOs) who are willing to help veterans at no cost to them.
Medical care? You can get it. PTSD counseling? AMVETS has a way to connect you to that, too. Employment assistance? Yep. They are Congressionally-chartered and regularly lobby for better veteran benefits. Check them out.
The AMVETS site will show you how to contact an NSO for help.
One of the hardest things for a veteran to do once they set foot at home is find a job. Many employers don't want to hire veterans because of PTSD-related issues or just concern that veterans are "damaged goods." Veterans rightfully feel slighted because of this.
VetJobs is one of the best resources for veterans returning home, looking for a job. This massive job board is filled with veteran-friendly career options and regularly posts advice for veterans. It's won awards due to its excellence.
Go to VetJobs.com to find out what they're doing.
GI Rights Hotline
It's scary how many military service members have experienced discrimination based on their combat status—and it's criminal. A lot of people worry that they are being bullied by the very country they swore to protect, and at times, this actually is the case.
One of the most best resources for veterans returning home is the GI Rights Hotline. This hotline allows you to determine whether your rights as a veteran have been infringed, or if you've been the victim of wrongful discrimination. It's free, confidential, and can help you fight back.
Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN)
Are you a female veteran who needs help? The Service Women’s Action Network is one of America's largest organizations dedicated to helping women warriors live life and enjoy the transition to civilian living once more.
You don't have to be a female struggling through basic training to know how lonely being a female vet is. Women are a stark minority in the Armed Forces and often suffer from a lack of support in everything from women's health to mental health. Thankfully, you are not alone.
SWAN offers VA benefits, ample resources for women veterans, reproductive health care, and sexual harassment assistance for ladies of the armed forces.
Service Women's Action Network's website will show you how to get help.
NVF Suicide Hotline
If you are one of the many veterans who is having extreme difficulty coping with PTSD, depression, or anxiety, remember that you are not alone. There is help, and if you are at a point of crisis, please call someone to talk to.
The NVF Suicide Hotline is one of the best resources for veterans returning home with extreme signs of PTSD. You are not alone. You can get through this. It's okay to ask for help.
Next Step Service Dogs
Feeling lonely? Need a friend who you know won't leave your side now that you are back home? One of the best resources for veterans returning home with disabilities or PTSD is Next Step Service Dogs—a non-profit that matches veterans with service dogs that help guide them through life.
These dogs are specially trained to help PTSD and depression sufferers relax and feel great once more. Just call them up, and they will help you find the perfect furry friend to welcome you home.
Go to Next Step Service Dogs to meet your new friend!