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When it comes to our military veterans, they are a group of dedicated individuals that deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. They’ve earned at least that from us by offering their time and years of their lives to serve our country. However, some people find it difficult to help a military veteran because of a simple lack of understanding when it comes to ways to help these veterans. But, there are a multitude of ways one can help these heroes.

More than a third of all Iraq and Afghanistan vets have or will eventually experience PTSD. That figure doesn’t include all surviving veterans of past wars such as Vietnam or World War II. Living with PTSD is stressful for any veteran, of course, but it also places stress on families and their network of friends.

One way to combat PTSD is the veteran having a service animal. A great program called Puppies Behind Bars is a program that utilizes prisoners to train dogs to become companion animals for veterans that suffer from PTSD. Companion dogs are great for veterans because they help decrease the stress that the veteran feels, and are sometimes even implemented in the course of treatment for PTSD.

Another option for helping military veterans is to help build them a home if they’re severely injured. More times than not, if they’re severely injured, the vets current accommodations may not be suitable to their lifestyle. Building Homes for Heroes is a great organization that builds homes for the severely injured veterans that can assist them in living by an independent means rather than relying on someone else to care for them. The best part is that this organization does this at not cost to the veteran.

When a veteran is talking to you or telling you a story, listen to them. The Library of Congress collects the stories of veterans from every war into a collection known as the Veterans History Project. So, if you’ve got a veteran in your life and they have a story tell, you can relay that information to the Library of Congress.

Perhaps the most important way to help a veteran is to provide them with a simple “thank you.” So many of our veterans go unthanked for their service that by offering up your gratitude, this small gesture could have a lasting impact on them. For example, if you’re out to eat and see a member of the military eating in the restaurant, offer to pick up their tab.

These men and women put their lives at risk by joining the United States Military. The least we can do as private citizens is to help them when they need it most. That’s what they’ve done for us. That’s why we have the freedom we have today. So, gently remind yourself of that the next time you interact with a military veteran.