Libraries Help Veterans Transition to Civilian Life
It is easy to remember that enlisting in the military involves some major lifestyle changes for the new recruits. But at the other end of the service, especially if they remained in the military for years, the transition back can be equally challenging. Veterans and their families may have become accustomed to frequently changing hometowns, or weeks and months with one parent if the other was deployed. They’re also used to being part of a community of other military members, to the point of having their own lingo. But when they leave the military, they must adjust to the new normal, which often involves changing careers. As always, many libraries have identified these needs and are working to fill them.
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A One-Stop-Shop of Community Information
It is a challenge for the libraries too because there is no one-size-fits-all veteran archetype. Veterans are found at nearly every demographic level of America. They and their families have long found libraries to be great resources when they move somewhere new, a one-stop-shop of community information and events to help them adjust. So, libraries want to continue offering support beyond the term of duty.
Libraries Find Innovative Solutions to Veteran Needs
Among the things libraries have done are library websites with robust online resources especially for military members and veterans. The Los Angeles Public Library has a web page devoted to information on career options for veterans. The page also includes info on the GI Bill, unemployment benefits, and Los Angeles business license, fees, and tax details.
Florida’s Broward County Library system offers career and education resources for veterans and links to Broward County veteran services. It also has the Veterans Connect Hotspot Program, in which veterans can borrow, free of charge, a mobile WIFI hotspot to help them access those resources. The hotspot can be checked out for a total of four months. The library is also working with the Broward County Historical Archives, located at the main library, to preserve stories of local veterans.
In California, Whittier Public Library has a Veterans Resource Center that is staffed one day a week by trained volunteers to help vets with veteran-related concerns and issues. Riverside’s SSgt. Salvador J. Lara Casa Blanca Library houses its own Veterans Resource Center, open five days a week, to provide resources on everything from employment to benefits to education to housing to health. Riverside partners with the California Department of Veterans Affairs for this center.
Texas’s Harris County Public Library has numerous resources consolidated onto one web page, including information on mental health for veterans and a page of resources for spouses, families, and dependents.
Academic libraries also work to help veterans returning to civilian life. Rutgers University Libraries has a comprehensive Veterans Services web page with links to veteran resources both at the local and the national level. A section specifically designed for transitioning vets includes several library books specific to their situation that can be checked out.
The Library Can Help
Libraries continue to support veterans, not just in word, but in deed. If you know a veteran or someone about to retire from the military, the best resource you can suggest to them is their local library.