FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — There are many ways to help veterans all year round such as donating, giving them a job if you own a business, or having a conversation with them.
Nick Boston, veterans service officer with Washington County and a retired vet, says the job is therapeutic for him because he can talk to other veterans and help them.
“It’s a cool familiarity that you could have with one another and just it’s really nice,” Boston said.
You do not have to be a veteran service officer to help vets.
You can make a difference just by reaching out to them to ask how they’re doing, according to Washington County Veteran Service Officer and retired vet Ben Dykes.
“That’s the easiest way. Vets are really good about solitude, just retracting or withdrawing. And if you can get a vet to talk, they might tell you what their problems are or what they need help with,” Dykes said.
He says after leaving the service, veterans can struggle with their mental health, homelessness, being alone on the holidays, or financially.
“There’s many veterans that deal with traumatic experiences in different ways, either through alcohol, chemical dependency,” Dykes said.
Dykes says there are many resources for veterans at the Washington County Veteran Services Office in Fayetteville.
“The VA hospital has the HUD-VASH program, and they will help you. Over the last year, the VA itself has helped over 40,000 veterans nationwide find permanent housing,” Dykes said.
Boston says he used one of the resources called a GI Bill to pay for college.
Donating non-perishable goods can also help vets, and you can bring those items to their office.
Dykes encourages businesses in Northwest Arkansas to hire veterans because many are looking for jobs.
“When you’re wearing a uniform and somebody tells you what to wear and where to be and what time to be there, it’s very easy. But when you finish the military and all that is on you, you lose that sense of direction,” Dykes said.
He also says if you are a vet, or if you know any experiencing problems, call the 988 suicide and crisis hotline.