Over the years I have had a number of people ask me what are practical ways they can support our troops. Is it care packages? Calling cards? Letters? All of these are great. And our troops are often well thought of while deployed. So what happens when they get home?
Unfortunately, for some the transition back home isn’t an easy one. And when it comes to supporting our veterans, where do you start? There are so many great organizations and causes with a heart to serve the veteran and his or her family that it may seem overwhelming as to where to put your hard, earned dollars.
Here is one program worth supporting. The Hometown Heroes Raffle is launching Labor Day weekend and runs through Veterans Day and will raise critical funding for the Veterans Innovations Program.
The Veterans Innovations Program (or VIP) helps our state’s veterans and their families get back on their feet following the stress of long deployments – this comes in the form of financial aid, education support, basic healthcare, job training, etc. Specifically, it was created to provide assistance to veterans and their families facing financial hardships due to deployments in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The program started serving veterans in 2007 and was supported by Washington state funding and general donors. However, like most states, Washington hit a funding crunch. As a result, the lack of state funds meant the program would be out of money in 2012. Fortunately, legislation was passed directing Washington’s Lottery to hold an annual raffle to help fund this valuable and important assistance program.
The goal of the program is to match individual needs with the appropriate Veterans Innovations Program fund and other veteran or non-veteran programs and services.
In addition to The Hometown Heroes Raffle, which is an annual raffle from Washington’s Lottery that will support our returning veterans here in Washington state, individuals and businesses may make donations to the Veterans Innovations Program.
Sales for this year’s raffle begin Sept. 5 and run through Nov. 10 with the drawing on Veterans Day. Ticket proceeds go directly to the Washington State Veterans Innovations Program (VIP). Visit walottery.com to learn more.
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.