12 Ways To Build A Community This Holiday And Connect With Other Veterans

Here’s how to get in touch with former military personnel to relieve stress and loneliness.

The holidays can be a difficult time for many veterans. The surge of expectations many women experience during the holidays can cause stress or a feeling of loneliness. This is especially true for veterans who may be separated from friends and family due to distance or COVID-19.

Many veterans also regret the camaraderie and kinship they felt during their service. Or they may find it difficult to establish relationships with people outside the military.

Creating a new veterans community or reconnecting with former military personnel can help avoid loneliness, stress and anxiety, and make the action meaningful.

Here are some ways to build community during the holiday season:

  1. Schedule a video call with a veteran friend. If you are not in touch with any of your former military buddies, you can form new relationships through Women Veterans Network (WoVeN), an online social network for female veterans. Or you can find other veterans through RallyPoint, a digital platform for the military and veteran community and their supporters.
  2. Host a virtual dinner on Zoom. Meet other veterans in one of the Wounded Warrior Project’s 48 peer support groups and dine together to “share” your favorite holiday traditions.
  3. Create your community for a healthy and hopeful vacation.

    Volunteer! Holidays offer many opportunities for volunteering. You can try The Mission Continues, which deploy veteran volunteers to continue their service within their local communities, or join local Marine Corps League efforts to support the much-loved Toys for Tots.

  4. Start a book club online or in person. Perhaps start with a warm story like the “gift of the magi,” a sentimental story from O. Henry on the challenges of the secret gift giving. Or “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,” a little book about Charlie Mackesy’s friendship and kindness.

Online games or virtual training with other veterans

  1. Play online games with friends or newly met veterans. Try Words with Friends 2, or any number of card games you can use for free.
  2. Schedule a training session online or in person with other veterans. Team Red, White and Blue offers virtual workouts including races, rucking and yoga, as well as many local in-person events with their chapters across the country.
  3. Be one of the growing number of female veterans who join the local American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars, who organize social and service events.
  4. Find a discussion group on social media. Groups vary from shared interests such as gardening or bird watching to health, faith, politics and veterans groups for women, era or branch.

Here’s how to organize an online movie watching night

  1. Host an online viewing party of your favorite sport or vacation movie. Here is a handy guide on how to do this through several free or low cost online platforms or apps. If your veteran friends are local, you can host an in-person watch party. Have everyone bring their favorite movie treat.
  2. Join or start a quiz club online or at a local restaurant. This step-by-step guide can help you if you want to organize your own event.
  3. Connect with other Veterans for moral support or to share memories of your service. Find and connect with the people you have served with through Together We Served’s Veterans Honor Roll website or its new “Veteran Finder” app, which provides access to a comprehensive directory of the 2.1 million. veteran members who have recorded their information.
  4. Gather a group of veterans you’ve connected with to lay Christmas wreaths in one of over 2,500 military cemeteries with Wreath’s Across America. Or contact a military cemetery in your area. You can help remove wreaths in January at a Wreaths Out event, which is in greater need of volunteers.

List of organizations that support veterans

These are just a few ways that veterans can connect with each other. Many Veterans’ organizations provide opportunities for Veterans to come together through online and in-person peer support groups, social networking events, and volunteer activities.

A brief list of national organizations that support all Veterans is featured on the Women’s Health website.

This is not an exhaustive list of all veterans organizations. This is a short list of organizations that have a particular focus on social connections for veterans and that operate across the country. Many local veterans’ organizations also provide opportunities for social connections.

Create your community for a healthy and hopeful vacation.

Sharing any information unrelated to VA does not constitute endorsement of any products or services by VA.

About Christopher Johnson

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