5 Ways Libraries Support Veterans
Military veterans are among the bravest and most selfless people in our country. They have put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. One of these freedoms is our freedom to access information. Often this information is accessed through libraries.
Libraries have been a major facet of the American experience since Benjamin Franklin founded the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731. At EveryLibrary, we believe it is only right that they have access to libraries when they return home.
Libraries are often the center of communities and in this role, they are the main drivers of community projects and events. A few of these events might allow library users to interact with their local veterans.
Often these types of events are informal and center around coffee and baked goods. This kind of low-key setting allows veterans, both old and newly discharged, to be comfortable and encourages engagement between those in attendance. Even an event, as seemingly small as this one, can uplift our veterans at times when they need it most. We should never stop expressing our gratitude to our veterans and these types of events are just one of many that allows us to directly thank a veteran for their service.
Often in more rural settings, Veteran Service Centers can be difficult to access because of their distance from communities. In this scenario, libraries often step in and fulfill the role of a liaison between these service centers and veterans.
Libraries offer counselor like programs to veterans when getting to a Veteran Service Center is impossible or incredibly difficult. This service is essential for veterans both old and young because they rely on these benefits to get jobs or ensure their continued well being. Without libraries, these veterans would likely go weeks, or months without gaining access to any information about the benefits they have access too.
This service is especially helpful in the lives of our older veterans. Often, they are afflicted with injuries that limit their mobility and long distances between their home and service centers drastically reduce their ability to access the help they need to continue living a happy life. When libraries taking on this role, our older veterans can lead a happy life with the benefits they have earned.
3. Group Discussion
Veterans have unique stories that are almost impossible for a civilian to empathize with. Often, we cannot begin to understand the things they have experienced and because of this, it is difficult for veterans to open up to civilian counselors or in a civilian discussion group.
A library’s status in a community as a safe space for everyone enables them to host veteran-only discussion groups that allow the community’s veterans to get together and discuss their commonalities without fear of being judged or being treated differently. One example of this is the WarInkProject founded by Veteran Chris Brown.
For a recently discharged veteran, this type of group can help them express themselves in a safe and accepting environment. For veterans that have been discharged for longer times, these meetings can allow them to interact with recently discharged veterans and help them in their transition to civilian life.
Libraries can also offer discussions for female veterans. Being a woman in the military can be a vastly different experience than being a man in the military. By hosting these woman-only discussions, libraries across the country are helping all veterans cope with their experiences in a positive way.
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For a recently discharged veteran, going from military life to civilian life is often the most difficult part of a new veteran’s life. Military life is regimented and scheduled down to the minute, while civilian life is much less structured. This can be distressing for veterans who have spent any amount of time in the armed forces.
Veterans often deal with this transition alone, but colleges and universities across the country are helping our veterans in this difficult part of their life. As part of their curriculum, many universities have a ‘Military to Civilian transition’ class to help veterans who are seeking an education transition better and with more success.
Of all the things that have been listed, they all have one thing in common. They are all resources available to our veterans through libraries. These resources help veterans in every facet of their life.
Beyond those we have listed, libraries serve as a career development center for veterans, so they can find employment. These programs teach veterans how to put together a resume, how to successfully go through an interview and even connect them with possible employers.
On top of this, libraries also offer a high-speed internet connection for veterans to research anything they need too. In conjunction with internet access, libraries also offer digital literacy workshops, so they can properly use the tools at their disposal. Many of these resources are unavailable to veterans otherwise and having access to them only positively benefits them.
Veterans of all ages and discharge times benefit greatly from these services and programs. No matter how old or young, every veteran deserves an opportunity to improve their lives an libraries give them this chance.