Organizing a screening of Veteran Nation is an easy and effective way to call a community to action and get your friends, neighbors and colleagues engaged in serving the nation’s veterans either by starting their own organization, joining an existing group, or finding a cause to support. Let the film do the talking for you. And then ask your community, “What can we do?”

Veteran Nation is available at no cost for community screenings. For more information, email us: contactus@servingourvets.org. Tell us about your plan to hold a screening in your community. We’ll mail you a DVD of the film for your screening event at no cost. You can download a screening kit (PDF) that will give you all the information and resources you need to get started.

Or find out if there is screening near you.

Here are some tips on how to take action after the film.

1. Discuss what you want to do.

Conduct an assessment of what your group or community has to offer. What are your strengths? What services or resources do you think you can best provide? Then spend some time discussing who our veterans are and where your strengths might match their needs.

Here are some important questions to be addressed:

    • What can our group or community do to help?
    • What do we have to offer?
    • How can we ensure that there is community backing to build a sustainable program or support for an existing program?

2. Get organized.

Before your discussion ends and folks head home, ask for a commitment to begin an action plan. Organize a committee to do the homework of mapping out the next steps. They can go to www.servingourvets.org to get some suggestions.

Here are some great resources that might help in framing your discussion.

  • Sea of Goodwill White Paper: Building the Bridge to Help Veterans & Their Families -- Creating and sustaining a long-term solution for better transitional support of veterans and their families as they return to civilian life requires participation and support of organizations and government at both the national and local levels. Authored by Colonel David W. Sutherland, USA and Major John W. Copeland, USA, the Sea of Goodwill: Matching the Donor to the Need white paper seeks to foster this discussion. The white paper focuses on three key elements in helping veterans and their families reintegrate into civilian society: education, access to health care for life, and employment. While these needs are simple, delivering the right service at the right time and place across more than 400,000 estimated service organizations is more complex.
  • Rand research on military veterans and their families provides background and explanation on key issues from employment to health services and education.
  • Institute for Veterans and Military Families Research offers current research on employment, education, and family issues.

3. Do your homework -- how will you address the three Cs – Contact, Comradeship and Community?

  • Contact—reaching out to veterans and identifying their needs;
  • Comradeship—building peer-to-peer support and mentoring in assistance programs; and
  • Community—serving veterans and their families where they live and work, teaming with veterans and their families for long-term, sustained support with collaboration and clearinghouse activities that create a “one-stop shop” for assistance while fostering collaboration among those reaching out to veterans.

Looking for ideas about how to address the three C’s? Check back with us. We’ll share with you what others have learned.

Here is an assessment of needs and capabilities done in New York. It is a good example of an assessment that has lots of great insights.

4.  Get started -- support or start an organization that will make a difference.

Looking for an organization? Maybe you want to learn from them or support what they are doing. A good place to start is Warrior Gateway,  a non-profit whose mission is to connect individuals in the military, veterans, and their families with federal, state, and local government programs as well as non-profit organizations in their local communities.

Where can giving make the most impact? The best single guide to giving is available for free and can be downloaded from the Philanthropy Roundtable.

Who can you trust? We are big fans of checking with Charity Navigator, a leading independent charity evaluator. All you do is enter the name of the charity in the search box and the navigator will give you a rating and evaluation.

Need to learn from the experts? The Staff Sergeant Donnie D. Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Community Services  is non-profit team of experts working in partnership with Easter Seals. They collaborate and coordinate services to support employment, education, health and other issues of importance to promote reintegration and success in civilian, family and community life. The Center’s expert team provides advice, technical assistance and training to individuals, government and public and private organizations.

Want to start your own organization? Here is an excellent guide to community action planning.

5.  Tell us what you did, so we can share your the lessons and stories of service with others.

Let us know what you did. How did you decide to make a difference? Tell us your story. Share your insights. Send us your photos and videos. Send us an email at contactus@servingourvets.org.