5 Ways Veterans Can Help Each Other Out

Throughout treatment, there is little that is as important for veterans in recovery than the support of other veterans. No one else knows firsthand all the things that are difficult to articulate, the emotional weight that can come with the job, and the sacrifices made on a daily basis.

In recovery, just being around other veterans can be helpful — an active reminder that you are not alone in what you experienced during active duty service or now as you work your way through addiction.

If you are a veteran seeking to support other veterans in recovery, here are five simple things you can do:

  1. Show up. What is easier than stopping by someone’s house, or going to a meeting, support group, or other veteran-centered event? Just being there means that you are available to other veterans who could use someone to talk to and that you are taking part in the community; this is good for others who are seeking support and it’s good for you as well.
  2. Check in. If you haven’t seen someone around the usual meetings and groups recently, take the time to reach out to them. Text, call, or stop by if you know where they live. The effort you expend to make sure that someone is doing okay can be hugely impactful. Even if it seems like they are confused by you showing up or if they don’t respond, they know you are concerned about them and that by itself may encourage them to start coming around again.
  3. Share memories. When you’re talking to another veteran and they share something they have experienced or talk about having a tough time, validate what they are saying and share your own similar experiences. You don’t have to “one up” them or make them feel like their experiences are nothing compared to what you have gone through, but laughing over shared similarities and talking through some of the tough things can help you both recognize that you are not alone in this.
  4. Go out. Inviting someone out of the house may be a big deal to them, even if it is nothing important to you. Invite someone to go get a cup of coffee or to come over to your house to watch the game. Keep it light and easy with no pressure to bring anything or take part in a big way. If they seem unsure, follow up and let them know that the invitation is still open, and keep inviting them over even if they decline.
  5. Offer to help. This can be something simple, like picking up coffee for someone who doesn’t get out of the house easily while you are at the store or repairing their fence if you see that it’s broken. You do not have to make a big deal out of it, but the fact that you noticed the need and filled it can communicate to that person that they are seen and that people care about how they are doing.

Connecting with other veterans and showing them support is “money in the bank,” allowing you to have the benefit of helping someone else and knowing that, if you need something later on, you have people you can turn to.