3 ways to give back to service members

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Military service in the United States was once more common than it is today. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the draft for military service was ended in 1973, a point in time when 2.2 million men and women made up the country’s active military personnel. That dropped to a total of 1.3 million active duty military and more than 800,000 reserve forces as of September 2017, according to Defense Department personnel data. There were around 20.4 million U.S. veterans in 2016, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Although military service is not compulsory in the U.S., it doesn't mean the sacrifices service members and their families make to protect the lives and freedoms of their fellow citizens aren't appreciated. The following are three unique ways to give back to these selfless men and women, who often benefit greatly from even the simplest of gestures.

  1. Serve as a driver for veterans

Unfortunately, many service members return from overseas missions with disabilities, some of which prevent them from driving. Adults who want to help service members can serve as drivers for veterans who can’t drive themselves. Such a gesture ensures they won’t miss any appointments with doctors or physical therapists, helping them get on the road to recovery that much quicker.

  1. Donate your airline miles

Some disabled veterans receive medical treatments far away from home at facilities that specialize in treating certain types of injuries, which can make it difficult for their families to be there for them during their recoveries. By donating frequent flyer miles to the Hero Miles Program, you can ensure injured servicemen and -women can still see their families during difficult times in their lives. Access to such support systems can be a big help as veterans work to recover from their injuries.

  1. Sponsor a service dog

A significant percentage of veterans return home with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD has been linked to a host of conditions, including depression and anxiety. However, programs such as Susquehanna Service Dogs, Veteran Service Canines and Companions for Heroes, organizations that place service dogs with veterans, have helped many veterans successfully cope with PTSD. By sponsoring a service dog through an organization such as these, people who want to help service members can provide an invaluable service to men and women fighting to regain their quality of life.