Veterans’ Affairs: Five Ways You Can Help Veterans Right Now

Servicemen returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 13 years have made the needs of returning veterans more obvious to the public. Here are five organizations in Philadelphia that assist military veterans in need, places that could use some assistance from local residents right away.

Camouflage Rhino

The Camouflage Rhino (formerly the Tangerine Rhino), in Mayfair, is an easy place for anyone just looking for a good way to assist military veterans. The Camouflage Rhino is an all veteran-run thrift shop that was created through the VMC. It provides an employment opportunity and work experience for vets. Donations of clothing and furniture can either go to veterans in need or be sold in the store. The Camouflage Rhino also offers an all veteran moving service that can booked like any other moving service.

All proceeds go to benefit programs at the VMC. The reasoning why they haven’t been able to update their sign yet is a lack of funding.

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Philadelphia’s Veterans Multi-Service Center

The VMC in Old City may be one of the best organizations that connects services to military veterans. The VMC was founded in 1980 to focus on the needs of Vietnam veterans who had essentially fallen through the cracks. Since that time, the VMC has expanded their capacity to work with all military veterans. Veterans have on-site computer and Internet access, emergency food and clothing, counseling, benefit counselors and much more. The VMC has been a top rated non-profit by greatnonprofits.org and operates almost entirely from government subsidies and donations. To become more involved with the VMC or to donate, visit their website here.

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Delaware Valley Veterans Home

Located in the Far Northeast, the Delaware Valley Veterans Home is a long-term residence facility for retired veterans and their spouses. The home, which is located just off of Roosevelt Boulevard at 2701 Southampton Road, is always looking for volunteers to come in and spend some time with the residents. People who wish to offer their time can assist by pushing wheelchairs, helping out during meals and even coming in to play some music.

For information on volunteering, call the facility at (215) 856-2743.

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Operation GreenDrop

Even if you do not have the time for volunteer work, you can still help out veterans in the city. Operation GreenDrop is a combined effort of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the National Foundation of the Blind. They take donations of gently used clothing and household goods to be resold at city thrift stores. Those who donate can choose which of the charities their contribution will benefit.

This drop off location can be found in the Northeast, just outside of Philadelphia Mills Mall (formerly know as the Franklin Mills Mall). There are many more throughout the area.

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PA TRiO Veterans Upward Bound

The Veterans Upward Bound program is lead by Diane Sandefur at the University of Pennsylvania. It is the only one of its kind in in the tri-state area. It offers free courses to military veterans to prepare them for college placement exams in math, science, computer science, grammar and foreign languages. Classes are offered at the 100 and 200 level allowing vets enrolled to start with basic algebra and continue into pre-calculus. The program is funded through federal grants and donations to the University of Pennsylvania.

– Text and Images by Bob Dieckmann and Zachary Rendin