“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”
If the Father of our Country is correct, then we should be concerned about how eager our children and future generations will be to enlist and defend our country.
Although we are a nation that does much to honor and respect our veterans, there’s also the harsh realities of daily life that many veterans face—with homelessness being an unmistakable one.
The next time you see a homeless person and try to ignore their plight, consider this important fact: There’s a 1 in 10 chance they are a U.S. veteran.
Then, there’s the estimated 1.4 million veterans that are at-risk of homelessness—and you can be sure that the Covid-19 pandemic is constantly raising that figure.
Thankfully, there are many organizations that want to help veterans and their families—starting with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and its Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program.
We’ll introduce you to some VA programs (including SSVF), and well as some other leading veteran support organizations (VSOs).
If you need immediate help, click here for 24/7 crisis support resources.
Supportive Services for Veteran Families
1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
The VA is one of the best resources to find benefits and services for veterans, their dependents and survivors. There are too many to list, but here are some ways the VA can help you (or your family) to:
- Care for your health
- Jump-start your career
- Invest in your education
- Secure your family’s future
- Finance or improve a home
- Supplement your retirement income
- Apply for and manage disability benefits
- Plan and pay for a burial or memorial service
- Get assistance as a survivor of a veteran or if you care for a veteran
More Like This: VA Home Loan: A Comprehensive Guide for Veterans and Active Duty
Important VA Contacts
Keep these phone numbers handy, because they are among the best and most commonly used VA resources.
- Phone: 1 (800) 698-2411
- Hours: 24/7
VA Benefits Hotline
- Phone: 1 (800) 827-1000
- Hours: 8 a.m.–9 p.m ET., Monday–Friday
GI Bill Hotline
- Phone: 1 (888) 442-4551
- Hours: 8 a.m.–7 p.m ET., Monday–Friday
VA Health Benefits Hotline
- Phone: 1 (877) 222-8387
- Hours: 8 a.m.–8 p.m ET., Monday–Friday
My HealthVet Help Desk
- Phone: 1 (877) 327-0022
- Hours: 8 a.m.–8 p.m ET., Monday–Friday
2. VA Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF)
Veteran homelessness hit a 10-year low in 2020…nine years after the VA launched its Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. There’s no doubt it ’s an invaluable resource for veterans at risk of homelessness.
The VA SSVF does much more, too! The VA partners with community organizations and nonprofits that can help you with:
- Legal Services
- Outreach Services
- Case Management
- Child Care Services
- Healthcare Services
- Daily Living Services
- Employment Services
- Transportation Services
- VA & Public Benefits Support
- Resource & Referral Services
- Housing Counseling & Placement
- Personal Financial Planning Services
Search the 2022 SSVF Provider list to find a local program near you, or contact the VA SSVF:
- Email: [email protected]
- Phone: 1 (877) 737–0111
3. VA Caregiver Support Programs
Friends and family that care for veterans are essential in enabling vets to continue to live in their own homes. However, this is an incredibly challenging role even for people with experience. The VA has programs to help you.
Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS)
The PGCSS provides resources, education and support to caregivers of veterans that have a service-connected condition and may have served during any era. No application is needed, either!
Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC)
The PCAFC also provides support to veterans’ caregivers, including short-term relief from caregiving duties, financial aid, health insurance and mental health counseling.
Unlike PGCSS, PCAFC is for veterans that incurred or aggravated a serious injury while in the line of duty on or before May 7, 1975, or on or after September 11, 2001.
4. Veteran Support Organizations (VSOs)
“Americans love, respect and honor our troops all year round…in fact, people donate more than $2.5 billion annually to the over 40,000 American charities with
There are many other veteran support organizations (VSO) and companies that support veterans and their families you might want to explore.
DOD VSO List
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has an extensive list of VSOs that focus on veteran support programs and veteran spouse support for employment, homeownership, health care, mental health and many other resources.
VA Directory of Veterans Service Organizations
The VA’s Directory of Veterans Service Organizations also lists nonprofit organizations that provide SSVF.
National Resource Directory (NRD)
The Defense Health Agency’s Recovery Coordination Program’s National Resource Directory connects veteran families to supportive services for veterans. The directory is a partnership among the DOD, VA and U.S. Department of Labor.
Search the NRD’s online directory online to connect with thousands of national and local programs, services and organizations. Major categories include:
- Education & Training
- Transportation & Travel
- Benefits & CompensationFamily & Caregiver Support
- Portfolio of Veterans Benefits
- Military Adaptive Sports Program
- Programs to Help Homeless Veterans
7 All-American VSO Greats
It’s impossible to talk about VSOs and not mention the following organizations!
1. The American Legion
Founded in 1919, The American Legion has thousands of posts and millions of members that help. They help veterans with education and benefits claims and finding jobs, and they offer health care coverage to eligible veterans through the Operations Comfort Warriors and Heroes to Hometowns programs.
Like the VFW, local Legion posts also offer a gathering place for veteran families.
2. AMVETS (American Veterans)
AMVETS welcomes anyone currently serving or has served in any military branch, including the National Guard and Reserves. They provide free help to members, including assistance with benefits claims, transition support, scholarships, employment and more.
3. American Red Cross
The American Red Cross provides confidential services for veterans (and their families) by connecting them to resources through Red Cross chapters in communities across the United States, as well as offices on military installations worldwide.
4. Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
Originally established to support World War I veterans in 1920, DAV serves disabled veterans and their families (including widowed spouses and orphans). Through many programs and benefits, DAV can help veterans find jobs, file claims, get a ride and much more.
5. Pets for Patriots
Pets for Patriots aims to end animal homelessness in the United States and to give veteran families the most excellent “thank you” of all: the love of a pet. They connect companions through nationwide shelter and veterinary networks, military and veteran organizations, and a patriotic pet-friendly public.
6. United Service Organization (USO)
Since 194, the USO has kept our service members connected to their families, home and country. The USO also provides transition services to support veterans returning to civilian life. Visit the USO’s website to find a location near you.
7. Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
The VFW was founded in 1899 after the Spanish-American War to offer support and assistance to U.S. veterans that had served during wartime.
The VFW’s Assistance program helps veterans with VA benefit claims, including separation and education benefits. Their local chapters provide scholarships, financial aid and more.
Veteran Emergency Assistance
If you are a veteran in crisis—or know one —help is available 24/7 through the:
VA Veteran Crisis Hotline
- Phone: 1 (800) 273-8255 (and press 1)
- Text: 838255
- Online chat: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/chat
American Red Cross Emergency Communications Center
- Phone: 1 (877) 272-7337
- Online: https://saf.redcross.org/css
Never hesitate to get assistance, no matter the need!
What other VSOs and SSVFs would you recommend? Please share them in the comments section.