As Americans, we owe great respect and gratitude to the veterans of our country’s military. Yet despite the sacrifices they have all made to protect us and our freedom, many veterans end up struggling with money when they return to civilian life.
For them, we’ve put together a list of some charities they can call on when times get really tough. They have programs that can help veterans struggling with finances. So without further ado (and in no particular order):
The Best Charities That Provide Financial Assistance For Veterans
Veterans Families United
An all-volunteer organization, Veterans Families United provides financial resources and more for veterans and their families. On their website, you’ll find several therapeutic, pharmaceutical, and funding options.
The organization was founded after Cynde Collins-Clark realized how difficult it was to find even life-saving resources. Returning veterans suffering from PTSD had a weak support system and sometimes couldn’t advocate for themselves.
Collins-Clark started putting together a vast network of empowerment-based tools that can help heal and educate veterans and their loved ones.
Veterans Families United is still considered an ongoing project; the goal is to create an ever-increasing community of support for the population that has served America in more ways than one.
Learn More: https://veteransfamiliesunited.org/
Homes for our Troops
Homes For Our Troops is a publicly-funded nonprofit that builds custom homes for the severely injured veterans of post-9/11 wars.
Many veterans in post-9/11 wars have suffered from limb amputations, severe traumatic brain injury, or partial or full paralysis. By building and donating custom homes for these veterans, HFOT helps restore the independence lost while fighting for America.
Instead of struggling to get back to stability, these newly-housed veterans can instead focus on normalcy; they can focus on their families, on recovering physically and mentally, and on rebuilding their civilian lives.
Since the organization was founded in 2004, nearly 90% of every dollar spent has directly helped veterans through its programs. The veteran chooses where the home is built, and a relationship between veteran and organization continues even after the home is donated.
Learn More: http://hfotusa.org
Hope for the Warriors
Founded in 2006, Hope For The Warriors also focuses on post-9/11 service members and their loved ones. Since its inception, the organization has focused on restoring both the family unit and a sense of self. To date, the company has served over 23,000 through its various support programs, each designed to assist with transition, health and wellness, and sports and recreation.
HFTW’s first program, A Warrior’s Wish, has fulfilled more than 200 wishes for improved quality of life. Its sister program, Run For The Warriors, have helped more than 25,000 in just ten years. The organization also maintains a visible presence on various social media channels.
Learn More: http://hopeforthewarriors.org
Fort Family Outreach and Support
For all of its rewards, being a soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve can lead to emotional, financial, and logistical challenges for both the veteran and their family. These struggles impact hundreds of thousands of family members, and each unit is unique.
Fort Family is the Army Reserve’s rallying point for struggling families 24/7/365. It is an outreach program with knowledgeable support specialists working out of Fort Bragg, N.C., and it offers a wealth of programs including some that provide financial assistance to veterans and services depending on what the veteran needs.
In all cases, Fort Family offers prompt referrals to current and retired soldiers, their family members, and Army Reserve civilians.
Learn More: https://www.usar.army.mil/ARFP/FortFamily/
Modest Needs Provides Emergency Grants For Veterans In Need
Veterans stuck in the cycle of poverty often could avoid the trouble with a little well-timed financial help. To restore the rest an otherwise self-sufficient family’s independence, Modest Means seeks to empower the permanently disadvantaged and those willing to work but currently unable to afford looking for work.
The organization also seeks to strengthen nonprofits by providing a space for them to apply to the public for help. These nonprofits all provide programs to help improve the self-sufficiency of their communities.
Learn More: https://www.modestneeds.org
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society works directly with the Marine Corps and the Navy to provide financial, educational, and other help to its veterans. Relief assistance comes in the form of interest-free grants and loans to current and retired naval servicemen and their eligible family members.
Other programs offered by the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society include the volunteer program, which provides training, reimbursement for mileage, and child/elder care for volunteers; an education program, which provides interest-free financing based on need to the dependent children of retired service members; and non-financial programs that provide budget counseling, thrift shop services, and more.
Learn More: https://www.nmcrs.org
According to founder Theresa Hart, Newby-ginnings was born on a car ride with her mother on I-90 a year after her son had died in service. She explained that she wanted to start a nonprofit in his honor, one which would serve the community he was a part of and loved, and the name came to them instantly.
Today, the North Idaho-based organization’s goal is to deliver respect and integrity to active and retired military and their families.
There are no income eligibility requirements to receive the basic essentials for free; veterans do not need to prove a need. The only required proof is evidence of past or present military service.
The organization also accepts donations of any clean and functional items. This includes clothing, cold weather gear, household items, and furniture. Monetary donations are also welcomed.
Learn More: http://www.newbyginnings.org/index.html
Operation First Response
Operation First Response provides help with personal and financial needs to the wounded warriors of America and their families. Some of these services include paying for medical bills after injury or illness, other financial hardships that come up during the recovery period, and the costs of transitioning from the military world back into civilian life.
The amount of financial aid provided to a veteran depends on how great the need is. If a serviceman is struggling to make ends meet and pay for rent, groceries, clothing, utilities, vehicle payments, or travel expenses for finding a job, Operation First Response can provide aid.
To date, the organization has helped over 15,000 veterans and their family members. Additionally, OFR has sent over 10,000 backpacks to combat support hospitals.
Learn More: https://www.operationfirstresponse.org
Operation Homefront has provided critical financial relief to more than 14,000 families making over 35,000 requests for help. This organization specializes in providing emergency financial assistance for veterans to pay bills, recovery support, and counseling when needed.
When a veteran applies for help with Operation Homefront, the organization writes a check to mortgage lenders, doctors, dentists, contractors, auto mechanics, hospitals, and other providers within a 72 hour span.
To date, the organization has put 500 families through transitional housing, giving them over 4,000 months of rent-free housing, and ultimately saving these families $4.7 million in cost-of-living expenses. OHF has also put over 600 families in mortgage-free homes and saving nearly $50 million in deed value. More than 3,000 caregivers now work through 60 support groups nationwide, as well.
Finally, Operation Homefront holds Homefront Celebrations in which military families receive essential items. To date, these celebrations have facilitated the distribution of 250,000 backpacks and 70,000 meals for thousands of military families.
Learn More: https://www.operationhomefront.org
Salute Inc provides aid to post-9/11 veterans through a few different programs. The organization’s flagship program is its Emergency Financial Assistance program, which provides financial aid for car-related expenses, mortgage payments, rent payments, utility bills, moving costs, and more. The organization will also bridge temporary income gaps as needed.
The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Paralympic Sports Camp was started by Salute Inc to reintroduce injured servicemen to physical activity through the help of disability sports. Besides improving physical activity in injured veterans, the structure of the program also helps improve their psychological state as well; the increased socialization and improved self-esteem both lend themselves to helping veterans achieve their goals.
Finally, Builders of Hope is another effort of Salute Inc to bring together local businesses, builders, and contractors. Together, they band together and help renovate the homes of the severely disabled and their family members.
Learn More: https://www.saluteinc.org
Thanks to Yanks
Thanks To Yanks was founded in 2006 by Michael Shain, beginning as a simple idea and growing into a mission to support the members of the military, past and present, and their families.
The first Thanks To Yanks dinner began as a 9/11 tribute five years after the attacks on the World Trade Center. What was meant to be a one-year tribute grew into an annual event that feeds veterans. Nowadays, the dinner supports nearly 400 guests.
The all-volunteer organization’s goals have also grown with the dinner guest list. It works tirelessly to keep itself involved with the military so it can identify gaps in service, enabling them to provide educated support that actually helps. In addition to delivering resources, Thanks To Yanks helps connect the community with one another through civic and religious groups that also support America’s military and veterans.
All the organization’s work serves to fulfill its mission statement, which is to promote civilian respect for past and present members of the military, to provide support to military veterans, and to always honor the heroes and victims of the 9/11 attacks.
Learn More: http://www.thankstoyanks.org
Veterans of Foreign Wars
Eligible veterans and members of the active, guard, and reserve forces can all benefit from the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The American nonprofit traces its roots all the way back to 1899 when local groups were founded to support injured and sick veterans of the Philippine Insurrection and the Spanish-American War. At the time, there were no available pensions or medical care options for these veterans, which means they were left stranded in struggle.
These veterans worked together to create the organizations that eventually became the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Chapters were formed in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Ohio, and today there are more than 1.6 million members nationwide.
Learn More: https://www.vfw.org
Post-9/11 military veterans and their families can benefit from the skills training and emergency financial assistance provided by USA Cares. The group’s mission is to help veterans bridge the gap and build their own foundation for stability in the long term.
USA Cares wants all post-9/11 veterans and their families to regain self-sufficiency through financial stability. It seeks to reach out to veterans at the earliest possible point of intervention to stem the flow of financial distress, especially for those who are too injured to seek work. The group states that it takes a holistic approach to its mission, concerning itself with the whole of the veteran and not just the numbers.
All veterans can access free services and apply 24/7. As soon as the application is processed and USA Cares determines that the applicant is eligible, they can provide financial help in less than 48 hours.
Learn More: https://usacares.org
One of the most well-known veterans’ organizations, the USO creates strong connections between veterans and their homes, regardless of where they serve. The group seeks to express the full extent of the country’s gratitude to its service members and their loved ones by offering programs designed to improve wellness, resiliency, strengthening, and connection.
The USO also supports service members abroad, even if they are stationed in remote, isolated parts of the world. By offering extensive outreach support expeditions, which includes the delivery of holiday celebration items, care packages, snacks, and functional internet services for the duration of a challenging period, the USO helps keep military members connected to the rest of the world.
In addition to supporting retired veterans, the organization also brings celebrities to active service members by way of its trademark entertainment tours. These programs focus on American pastimes, connecting the military with its nation during these times of separation.
Learn More: http://uso.org
Avoiding Veterans’ Charity Scams
Unfortunately, for all the legitimate nonprofits there are to honestly help out retired veterans, there are just as many shams to beware of when seeking help. These groups don’t just misspend or steal your money; by participating in these unethical practices, they divert millions of dollars that could otherwise go to veterans through honorable organizations that provide real financial assistance to veterans as well as mental health care, job training, and housing.
According to the FTC, older veterans are targeted more frequently than other age groups.
Such scams will use similar methods to reach out to veterans as the above organizations would: by way of email, phone calls, letters, and texts. In fact, they’ll often use similar names as well. Still, they rely on high-pressure tactics and deceptive practices to wear down people until they pay them money.
By doing a little research on your own, it’s not too difficult to weed out the sham companies. If an organization reaches out to you and isn’t on the list above, take a few extra steps to ensure that you’re not dealing with a fraudulent company; don’t allow the scammers to take advantage of your generosity or need for help.
- Pressure to immediately donate. Legitimate organizations only want donations when you choose to make it, not before.
- Claims that you have won a prize or that you will be eligible for the prize after donation. This is illegal.
- Thanks you for a donation you haven’t given. This is a technique used to try and trick people into believing they have donated with them before, which makes them more likely to donate again without thinking about it.
What should you do if you think you’re dealing with a scam company?
- Do hang up if the VA makes an unsolicited call to you
- Do research any properties that are offered to veterans at a discount or for free. Look up the online property records to ensure the ownership is up to speed, and don’t pay anything unless you have signed a contract.
- Do consult your state’s security regulator to check the credentials of an advisor who wants to get you additional benefits through schemes.
- Do rely on the VA’s representative to assist you with obtaining benefits and additional assistance. The organization has a database of attorneys it can search, as well as veterans service organizations and claims agents.
- Do check evaluators like Charity Navigator, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and CharityWatch to verify the legitimacy of an organization.
- Do keep informed on other ways to prevent falling for phishing attacks.
- Don’t hand out your Social Security number or credit card details unless you know exactly you are dealing with.
- Don’t wire money to strangers. This is as unrecoverable as handing out cash.
- Don’t pay to get your military records; your local VA provides this service for free.
- Don’t give someone access to your VA information without a power of attorney.
- Don’t apply for a job if it requires giving out banking information or if you must pay to get hired.