The United Nations defines volunteering as “where compassion meets solidarity” and is the sponsor of International Volunteer Day, which occurs on December 5. Volunteering to support various causes is a fantastic way to serve your community and has a positive impact on the lives of others.
International Volunteer Day And the Benefits of Volunteering?
There are many benefits to volunteering and International Volunteer Day recognizes those benefits. Volunteering enables us to use our innate talents and abilities to help others without anything expected from others in return. Also, volunteering builds stronger communities; it fosters community involvement as volunteers connect with each other to support a common cause. This increase in socialization through volunteering can help us make connections and reach people who feel isolated.
According to One New Humanity, there are mental and physical health benefits to volunteering, including reduced stress, increased happiness, and increased confidence. Providence, a healthcare system, observes that volunteering reduces blood pressure and depression, which can result in fewer hospitalizations.
Providing Support to Veteran and Servicemember Organizations
If you’re interested in helping to celebrate International Volunteer Day, one great way to have a positive impact through volunteering is to work for a military support organization. There are many nonprofit organizations throughout our country that offer support services for active-duty military servicemembers or veterans in their communities, and they are in frequent need of volunteers.
Volunteers for these types of organizations typically perform different types of work. For example, a volunteer may be asked to:
- Send care packages to servicemembers deployed for the holidays
- Offer legal advice or other services that the volunteer is qualified to provide
- Staff military or veteran support facilities
The VA and International Volunteer Day
Another helpful way to support veterans on International Volunteer Day is to volunteer for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Development and Civic Engagement. The VA Center for Development and Civic Engagement reported that last year over 25,000 volunteers provided over 2.6 million volunteer hours, which is a remarkable amount of time. In one veteran support program, for instance, volunteers participate in a transportation network that helps veterans seeking services from a VA facility or other authorized facility.
Compassionate Contact Corps
Another volunteering opportunity on International Volunteer Day is through the VA Center for Development and Civic Engagement is the Compassionate Contact Corps, a virtual program that matches trained volunteers with veterans suffering from loneliness or social isolation. This program helps to alleviate the mental anguish often suffered by veterans and is useful in suicide prevention. According to the USO, 30,177 active-duty servicemembers members and veterans have died by suicide since 9/11, compared to 7,057 who have died in combat in the same 20 years.
United Service Organizations
Another great opportunity to support military veterans and active servicemembers – especially on International Volunteer Day – is by volunteering for the United Service Organizations (USO). The USO depends on volunteers to support its mission and has over 30,000 volunteers. These volunteers assist with special events, greet servicemembers at homecomings after deployments or volunteer at USO facilities around the world.
[Related article: Military Suicide: Protecting Servicemembers Who Are at Risk]
Spirit of America is another large military support organization that supports U.S. troops. The Spirit of America program operates in 94 countries with 1,474 projects.
Volunteering Raises Morale
Volunteering to support veterans and active servicemembers helps to increase their morale by showing that people who do not know them personally support their service to our nation. In addition, it is very satisfying to volunteer when you have the opportunity to serve others in an impactful way. December 5 is International Volunteer Day, but – in some ways – every day should be.