In my opinion, the military community tends to be self-sufficient. When one of us has a baby, our on-base neighbors deliver meals for a week to ease this transition. When our marriage is struggling, we are advised to meet with the command chaplain for counseling. When it comes to donating money to nonprofit organizations, we tend to select military and veterans charities that we know will give back to our military community.
As we’ve discussed before deciding which military and veterans charities to give back to isn’t an easy decision. There are more than 400,000 military and veterans charities in the United States. That number –400,000– can be daunting and overwhelming.
Here are 21 military and veterans charities that you should consider donating to during this year’s Combined Federal Campaign. These military and veterans charities are a starting point for charities that give back effectively and efficiently to the military community. These nonprofit organizations have received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and the information about each one comes from Charity Navigator.
21 4-Star Military and Veterans Charities You Should Consider
- DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Charitable Service Trust: This trust targets physically and psychologically injured veterans. Programs supported by the trust typically include: providing food, shelter and other necessary items to homeless or at-risk veterans; accessibility or mobility items for veterans with vision or hearing impairments; therapeutic activities; physical and psychological activities for rehabilitation; and other forms of direct service for veterans and their families.
- Homes for Our Troops: This military charity assists severely injured servicemen and women and their immediate families by raising donations of money, building materials and professional labor and then coordinating the process of building a new home or adapting an existing home for handicapped accessibility. The finished home is then given to the veteran at no cost to him or her.
- Wounded Warriors Family Support: Wounded Warriors Family Support provides support to the families of those who have been wounded, injured or killed during combat operations. Its retreats are provided free of charge to eligible family members.
- Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund: The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post-9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured service members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families. This military charity helps defray the expenses incurred during hospitalization, rehabilitation and recovery; assists with the expenses associated with the purchase of specialized equipment, adaptive vehicles and home modifications; and educates the public about the special needs of our injured service members and their families.
- Special Operations Warrior Foundation: The Special Operations Warrior Foundation provides support and assistance to the military’s special operations community. Its mission includes providing a full college education to the surviving children of those who lose their lives while serving in the U.S. military special operations community and providing immediate financial assistance and support to ensure that severely wounded personnel are able to have their loved ones at their bedside during recovery.
- Association of Graduates of the United States Air Force Academy: The AOG’s three-part mission is: to work in partnership with the academy to produce and foster graduates with an enduring commitment to integrity, excellence, and service to country; to provide leadership, communication, and support to all the academy’s graduates, and promote camaraderie among them; and to promote the academy’s heritage, common tradition, and the accomplishments of its graduates.
- West Point Association of Graduates: The West Point Association of Graduates is the alumni association of the United States Military Academy.
- Freedom Service Dogs of America: Freedom Service Dogs is a nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by rescuing dogs and custom training them for individual client needs. Clients include children, veterans and active duty soldiers.
- Hope For The Warriors: This national organization provides comprehensive support programs for service members, veterans and military families that are focused on transition, health and wellness, peer engagement and connections to community resources.
- Puppies Behind Bars: Puppies Behind Bars trains prison inmates to raise service dogs for wounded war veterans and explosive-detection canines for law enforcement. Service dogs are placed free of charge with wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The dogs learn special commands to help mitigate the effects of PTSD and traumatic brain injury.
- Operation Homefront: Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. Payments are made in the form of grants, not loans, for some of the most basic kinds of needs, such as food, rent and utilities.
- Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society: This military and veteran charity provides financial, educational and other assistance to active duty and retired members of the Navy and Marine Corps, their eligible family members and survivors.
- Air Warrior Courage Foundation: The Air Warrior Courage Foundation focuses on active duty, National Guard, Reserve and retired military personnel and their families needing financial assistance for medical, educational, and other extraordinary expenses not covered by other military, veterans or charitable institutions.
- Operation Support Our Troops- America: This organization’s mission is to support the morale and well-being of American forces by providing comfort, resources and education to them and their families both while they are deployed in harm’s way and after their return. This military charity sends care packages, along with personal letters, cards and notes of support from the community at large to deployed service members.
- Travis Manion Foundation: This military and veteran charity engages with veterans and families of the fallen in all stages of their personal journeys and offers them unique opportunities to empower them to achieve their goals.
- Honor Flight Network: Honor Flight Network transports senior and terminally ill veterans to Washington, D.C. so that they can visit and reflect at the memorials.
- Fisher House Foundation: Fisher House Foundation is best known for a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. There is at least one Fisher House at every major military medical center to assist families in need and to ensure that they are provided with the comforts of home in a supportive environment.
- Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors: TAPS has provided comfort and care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week through comprehensive services and programs including peer based emotional support, case work assistance, crisis intervention and grief and trauma resources. Its National Military Survivor Seminars and Good Grief Camps have been conducted for 19 years and are complemented by regional seminars across the country.
- Our Military Kids: Our Military Kids provides substantial support in the form of grants to the children of National Guard and Military Reserve personnel who are currently deployed overseas, as well as the children of injured service members in all branches. The grants pay for participation in extracurricular activities and tutoring programs that nurture and sustain children while a parent is deployed or recovering from injury.
- Snowball Express: The Snowball Express provides hope and new happy memories to the children of military fallen heroes who have died while on active duty since 9/11. This military and veterans charity brings children together from all over the world for a four-day experience filled with fun activities.
- USO Metropolitan Washington: With the help of nearly 5,000 devoted volunteers, USO-Metro provides programs and services for active duty troops and their families at area military hospitals, five USO Centers, four USO airport lounges and a Mobile USO. Its signature programs include Turkeys for Troops and Project USO Elf.
Obviously this list of military and veterans charities is not comprehensive. But it’s a starting point for CFC donors looking to donate to military and veterans charities.