There's a lot happening which provides real support for military veterans and their families. Lots more needs to be done, but things are getting better. This is only a sampling, biased by efforts that I'm seriously involved with, or plan to become so. Hey, you can also help out.
Turns out that the Department of Veteran Affairs gets more and more done, like improving the systems for handling medical and educational claims. They're also leading novel public/private partnerships to better support veterans, like the Blue Button effort which will allow vets to download their health records. Recently announced efforts will lead to integration with the Pentagon health records system, which is a huge deal. They're also using social media to get the word out to vets, including getting help from social media nerds to further propagate the word. (Yes, it's true that I fulfill the "nerd" part.)
Speaking of nerds, you might've noticed that Stephen Colbert ran a DonorsChoose.org challenge which helped the classrooms in schools that serve the children of the military. Well, I've picked up that effort, and will match all contributions to the same schools, who really need a break. Please check out the details here, and consider sending a few bucks to help the kids out. Note that this effort has been tied to the current Colbert/Fallon matching funds thing, but you should support the bigger nerd.
There're a lot of other efforts which really get the job done. The Bob Woodruff Foundation at ReMIND.org discovers the small vets service organizations that get the job done, vets them, and helps get funding.
In NYC, sometimes you pass the Intrepid air craft carrier on the west side, without knowing that they do a lot for military families. I gotta learn more, but check out the Intrepid Family of Foundations: Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, the Fisher House Foundation, and the and the Intrepid Relief Fund. They focus on the practical, like housing families at the hospitals where their wounded troops are getting treated, and working on traumatic brain injury.
In the future, we need to do more to help vets gets jobs. However, military job descriptions aren't easy to translate to civilian job descriptions. People are working on this, and I'm hoping we'll see a call to action, asking recruiters and hiring managers everywhere to take a look at this.
Finally, check out The Mission Continues, where veterans can find opportunities to serve in their neighborhoods and communities.
Lots more is accomplished by many other groups, lots more needs to be done, and you can help by supporting any of these efforts!
This story is part of Military Families Week, an effort by HuffPost and AOL to put a spotlight on issues affecting America's families who serve. Find more at jobs.aol.com/militaryfamilies and aol.com.
Follow Craig Newmark on Twitter: www.twitter.com/craignewmark