When America sends our brave men and women overseas to protect our country’s interests, some return home to face a lifetime of uncertainty after devastating combat injuries.
Adapting to a new lifestyle and learning how to care for themselves can certainly be life-changing for a wounded service member and their caregivers. That’s when organizations like Wounded Warrior and Operation Stand Down step forward to assist veterans.
In the past 15 years, the opportunity to support veterans and the groups that serve them has dramatically increased. So have the number of veterans needing assistance.
The country music industry has risen to the challenge of drawing attention to the needs of these deserving men and women. Entertainers such as Trace Atkins and Josh Turner are avid Wounded Warrior supporters. Atkins has appeared in multiple video ad campaigns, and Turner sings the National Anthem at virtual and live events.
While the effort of celebrities is appreciated, others have contributed their time and effort to helping our deserving veterans. Younger generations have multiple opportunities to step up and help injured service members by organizing and participating in fundraising efforts. Elementary school-age kids have raised funds through penny challenges while college greek organizations have donated the proceeds from campus variety shows.
In this era of COVID-19 restrictions, even virtual fundraisers bring in much-needed donations.
Instead of receiving presents and best wishes from her friends and family, high school senior Amanda Lenhardt used her Facebook profile to request donations for the Wound Warriors program. A few hundred dollars later, she met her goal.
This year, Wounded Warriors announced they would award grants of up to $1,000 to injured veterans to purchase food, pay rent and help with other necessities.
For the past several years, both Nashville and Franklin have organized Wound Warrior Carry Forward fun runs to raise money. With COVID restrictions limiting the gathering of large crowds, Wounded Warriors continued the Carry Forward campaign in the Nashville area in September of this year by encouraging walkers and runners to carry the American flag through neighborhoods or along their favorite running routes. So far, about half of the $200k goal has been raised, and Individuals can still make donations by visiting the Wounded Warrior Nashville Carry Forward web page.
Another Middle area organization dedicated to supporting veterans is Operation Stand Down. On November 12th, they’ll host the 2020 Nashville Heros Breakfast to raise money to assist homeless veterans.
Operation Stand Down Tennessee began in 1993 when a coalition of volunteers and organizations united to help Nashville’s growing population of homeless veterans. Six years later, government entities recognized as a full-time, non-profit agency.
Homelessness among veterans is a problem, and Middle Tennessee shares in this dilemma. The increase in property values certainly benefits homeowners. On the other side, the dramatic rise in housing values and rent costs cause problems for struggling veterans. Many landlords are reluctant to accept below-market rent subsidized by housing programs like Section 8.
One of the most significant accomplishments of Operation Stand Down is the opening of Curb Victory Hall. This apartment complex offers permanent and affordable housing for struggling veterans and their families.
Curb record founder Mike Curb gave $500,000 to kick start the project. Low interest, federal loans, and contributions for the Tennessee Housing Trust Fund helped fund the remainder of this $7.3 million project.
Earlier this summer, the organization opened a new, state-of-the-art welcome facility on 12th Avenue in Nashville. More importantly, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs designated it as an official veterans welcome center.
One reason Nashville has so many veterans is the proximity of Fort Campbell in nearby Clarksville. When enlisted servicemen and women leave the military, they often stay in or around the same community. And although a military background can help develop lifelong vocational skills, there are times when veterans have difficulty finding or maintaining employment.
Meeting the needs of deserving veterans is always a challenge. COVID-19 restrictions make meeting the group’s objectives even more challenging. Veterans struggling to pay bills or purchase food for themselves or their families have placed an even more significant strain on budgets.
Middle-Tennesseans can assist Wounded Warriors and Operation Stand Down in several ways. First, you can visit their websites and make a financial contribution. Although COVID-19 restrictions have restricted opportunities to donate time and energy, both groups can advise potential volunteers on how they can help our veterans get back on their feet and live fulfilling lives.