9 ways we can all support veterans in Birmingham

Vettes-4-Vets
Soldiers and supporters at a Vettes-4-Vets event. Photo via Vettes-4-Vets’ Facebook page

Today is Veterans Day, and we couldn’t think of a better way to honor our vets than to share nine ways to support veterans right here in Birmingham.

But first, if you’re a veteran, thank you for your service, and we hope you find something here that supports you or your buddies. Second, if you know a veteran (and who doesn’t?), then please be sure to share this piece with them so they and their friends can learn about all these great resources.

1. Priority Veteran

Sometimes you need someone to hold your hand and walk you from a hard and lonely place (think homeless or at risk of being homeless) to safer ground. This is what Priority Veteran does. Not only do they help vets who need it find good permanent housing, but they also help hook them up with what they need so they can become—and stay—financially stable. Everybody wins.

Priority Veteran is one way to support veterans in Birmingham
Lula Skowronek, Director of Priority Veteran. Photo courtesy of United Way of Central Alabama

According to Priority Veteran’s website, Case Managers help veterans with the following:

  • Creating a Housing Stability Plan
  • Accessing medical or mental health services
  • Enrolling for veteran’s benefits
  • Job search assistance
  • Financial coaching

They do other things, too, so if this sounds like a good fit for you or someone you know, give them a call. What do you have to lose?

Call: 1.800.460.3827
Find out more about Priority Veteran.

2. Vettes-4-Vets

Vettes-4-Vets is another way to support veterans in Birmingham
Display honoring fallen soldiers at Hoover’s Veterans Park. Photo via Vettes 4 Vets’ Facebook page

Since 2008, a group of Corvette enthusiasts from across the Southeast has raised more than $350,000 to support individual veterans and military personnel (and their families) as well as veterans’ organizations.

This is the event I personally think is the coolest. Note the last line. 💀😭

“Vettes-4-Vets’ Memorial Day fundraiser at the Talladega Superspeedway is heavily participated in and registration fills quickly every year since its conception—typically, months before Memorial Day.  

The two-day fundraiser typically draws over 250 Corvette and muscle car owners from across the nation and internationally.  Overall attendance is estimated at 650 to 700 and growing.

For a modest donation, participants can drive their own vehicles on the track between official Talladega pace vehicles.  Speeds consistently exceed normal highway speeds.

Find out more about Vettes 4 Vets.

3. 3 Hots and a Cot

I first heard of 3 Hots and a Cot from an Eastlake neighborhood group on Facebook. In addition to providing support to homeless vets so they can transition off the streets into a more sustainable lifestyle, they also provide so much more.

This organization was founded by veterans for veterans, so they’re able to provide camaraderie and support to remove roadblocks to the each person’s success.

If you check out their Instagram, you’ll find fishing trips, barbecues, drives for supplies and fellowship. I can only imagine how many lives they have transformed.

Find out more about 3 Hots and a Cot.

4. Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham

Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham supports vets in Birmingham
Volunteers and veterans at the Serving Veterans help desk. Photo via Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham’s Facebook page

Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham helps low-income people get assistance with civil, family, and domestic legal problems. Serving Veterans is one of their case priority areas. If you need help, make sure to check out the eligibility requirements. If you do qualify, go here:

Find out more about Veterans Help Desk.

5. Hand in Paw

Hand in Paw supports vets
A Hand in Paw Therapy Team visits with a group at the VA. Photo by Mary Margaret Smith

Hand in Paw works with trained Animal-Assisted Therapy Teams to bring smiles to places where things are difficult, whether it’s a hospital, a special needs classroom, or a gathering of veterans.

They currently do programs at the Birmingham VA Medical Center. And you can apply if you’d like to get on the wait list for another program or location.

6. Lakeshore Foundation’s Operation Lima Foxtrot

Operation Lima Foxtrot
Graphic from Lakeshore Foundation.

Lakeshore’s been serving vets who were injured during their time of service since the beginning.

“The Lima Foxtrot programs for injured military began as a response to the significant number of men and women acquiring injuries from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lakeshore has served over 2,600 injured servicemen and women and their families from 46 states, DC and Puerto Rico since 2006. Through Lima Foxtrot, active-duty personnel and veterans use lessons from sport and recreation to learn how to pursue an active, healthy lifestyle.”

From Lakeshore Foundation

Find out more about Lima Foxtrot.

7. Career Resources

UAB supports veterans in Birmingham
Graphic from UAB Career and Professional Development

Did you know our friends at the BBJ named UAB the most veteran-friendly employer in 2016? That’s quite an honor, and a great resource for veterans in our area.

UAB has made recruitment, hiring and supporting veterans a priority, so they invite veterans to visit their career page to find out about opportunities that can help you transition from military to civilian life.

Anyone who’s had a nontraditional career path knows it can be next to impossible to translate what you’ve done into “what employers are looking for.” To this end, UAB directs veterans to this handy-dandy tool which helps make the translation that much easier.

Check out their other career resources for veterans.

8. The Crisis Center

Birmingham, Alabama, Crisis Center
Wanda Miller, Ellen Burcham Scheirer and Angela Clayton, officers with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, also volunteer on race day. Photo via Crisis Center

The most important thing to know about The Crisis Center, besides that they’re awesome and help make Birmingham better in So. Many. Ways. Is this:

Crisis Line: 205.323.7777

Program that one into your speed dial. Whether you’re a veteran or not. Whether you’re in crisis or not. Because you never know when you or someone you care about is going to need the Crisis Line. Trust me on this one.

9. Mental health support

Mental health - No stigma
There doesn’t need to be a stigma around mental health. Graphic from the National Institute of Mental Health

Here at Bham Now, we firmly believe in 2019 it’s long past time to erase any remaining stigma around mental health.

To do our part in creating a mindset shift, we’ve been stockpiling resources for y’all. Again, don’t keep them to yourselves. Share them with your friends, too. You never know whose life you may save.

Last but not least, check out this story on what a bunch of organizations are doing to figure out what kind of support vets and their families need in our area: United Way, Vettes-4-Vets and others to launch region-wide needs assessment to support veterans and families.

Alright, so tell us, Birmingham, what are you doing to support veterans? Tag us on social @bhamnow. We want to know.