Join the Got Your 6 community online and help spread the movement. Connect with veterans, civilians, and other Got Your 6 supporters through social media. This is a great way to learn about military life and veteran transitions, engage in discussions, and help bridge the civilian-military divide. They also show that you’re part of a movement to make our communities better and stronger. #GotYour6

Knowledge is powerful and it is one of the keys to bridging the civilian-military divide. One of the easiest ways to learn more about veterans, military families, and the Got Your 6 campaign is by taking a moment to  watch a video…or a few!

In order to change the national discourse on veterans, we must engage communities on the subject. When people come together, the results can be profound. Start or join conversations with your family, friends, coworkers, and online. Or go a step further and take the initiative to start your own forum and watch the conversations unfold.

All donations directly support the work of the Got Your 6 campaign. In 2013 and 2014, Got Your 6 distributed more than $4.2 million in grants to our nonprofit partners. Donate today and support our work to empower veterans and build stronger communities.  Got Your 6 merchandise can help bridge the civilian-military divide by sparking discussions, increasing awareness, and bringing people together.

Many Got Your 6 products are designed to share. When you purchase a three-pack of “6” pins, share two with others. Or check out the Got Your 6 Take Action Kit–it’s the perfect way to gather family, friends, and neighbors to make bracelets, share pins and help spread the message of Got Your 6. The kit includes six Got Your 6 pins AND the materials needed to make six paracord bracelets.

Veteran-civilian dialogue is key to bridging the civilian-military divide. Sometimes, civilians are unsure of how to speak to veterans or they fear saying “the wrong things.” In reality, veterans are people, too – they have stories to tell and experiences to share. Next time you meet a veteran, go beyond saying “thank you for your service,” and have a conversation with him or her. Ask him where he served or ask her what she did in the military. Most importantly ask, “What’s next?”  If you are a veteran, the next time you tell someone that you served, consider also sharing a story about your service.

Affinity groups are groups formed around a shared interest or common goal. They provide forums for employees to gather socially and share ideas. They not only provide an opportunity for veterans to identify in the workplace (you may be working alongside a veteran and not even know it), but they give both veterans and civilians a chance to talk about the experience of serving our country. Find out if there is an affinity group where you work, ask your colleagues if they would like to join, and have a conversation about service. If your workplace does not have an affinity group, you can start one yourself.

What is your old school doing to empower returning veterans who want to further their education? Student Veterans of America has formed chapters at hundreds of colleges and universities across the country to support fellow veterans making the transition from military life to student life. You can help by ensuring that your school is working with veterans and by supporting the SVA chapter at your alma mater. If your school doesn’t have an SVA chapter, talk to them about how to get one started. Contact Student Veterans of America or your school’s veterans service office to find out how you can help.

Blood donations help millions of patients in need—both service members and civilians alike. Did you know that one pint of blood can save up to three lives? Got Your 6’s nonprofit partner, The American Red Cross, offers plenty of opportunities for Americans to give blood and supports our military and their families in times of need. If you are inspired by military service and hoping to share in the sacrifice, think about giving blood. Find out where you can give blood by visiting The American Red Cross or contacting your local Red Cross chapter.

Every member of today’s military is a volunteer. The majority of veterans return home and continue serving in their communities. Let them inspire you to serve as well. The Hands On Network—a Points of Light Enterprise—connects volunteers to service projects and organizations. You can read to a child, help in a food bank, or take time to talk with an elderly veteran. To learn about volunteer opportunities, check out Hands On Network or your local Hands On Network Action Center. Read about veterans who serve: Team Rubicon and The Mission Continues.

Join the millions of Americans taking the time to reflect on our history of service and engage in their communities. Honor a service member on our National Days of Service: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 9/11, and Veterans Day. Mark your calendars! Bring your family, your friends, your coworkers—together you can be a part of the incredible tradition of service in America. Learn more about how you can get involved and serve your communities.

Are you a veteran and recent college graduate? Consider being a mentor to incoming student veterans at your alma mater. Share you experiences or what you wish you’d know. Are you a military-connected student or professor? Reach out to a student veteran on campus. Simple gestures like offering a tour of the campus or the library, providing information about the local SVA chapter, or recommending extracurricular activities can have a huge impact on incoming students. Student veterans, like most students, thrive when they feel connected to their community. Help make the connection on your campus.

Take action by reading a book and learning more about military culture and veterans’ experiences. Visit your local library, bookstore, or go online. Amazon has a great list of military books to inspire you and give a glimpse into military life—from historical accounts, to tactical analysis, to service members’ autobiographies—books in the military genre cover a wide range of interests. Books are outlets of endless learning, so the next time you’re looking for a new book to read, consider it an opportunity to begin bridging the civilian-military divide.

If you are an employer, hiring veterans is simply good for business. Statistically, veterans stay in their jobs longer and tend to be promoted faster than their civilian counterparts. Employers seek employees with drive, leadership skills, tactical decision-making experience, and the ability to think on their feet to solve problems and get the job done. Veterans have been trained to do exactly that. Make a point to hire veterans to strengthen your business. Also ensure that your job openings are visible to veterans—consider taking part in a veterans’ hiring fair or even organizing a hiring fair in your community.

You have something to offer—you have experience and expertise gained from a lifetime of hard work. You have a lot you could teach someone. You can do that by becoming a mentor to the child of a military family. A military child, a model of resilience, can benefit from a role model and a friend like you who’s deeply rooted in your community. You can also benefit from them.
To learn more about mentoring a military child, contact the Military Child Education Coalition. And if you can’t find a military child in your community, then serve as a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Unfortunately, our culture has come to associate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with veterans, and vice versa. This association, however, is widely misinformed and harmful to both veterans and civilians. According to the National Institute of Health, 7.7 million Americans deal with PTSD in a given year. Let’s break it down: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports between 300,000 and 500,000 of the 2.5 million service members who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have dealt with PTSD. That’s about 25,000 to 42,000 service member every year. So in reality, the vast majority of Americans with PTSD are civilians. Change the conversation by learning the facts, and help those who do suffer from PTSD by being fully informed.

Not all national service involves wearing a military uniform. There are thousands of men and women who are in service to the nation as AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps members. From their early 20s to their early 70s, they are working to combat hunger in America, find solutions to homelessness, help Americans recover from natural disasters, and much more. Many of these corps members are veterans themselves and others are working with veterans around the country. To learn more about joining AmeriCorps and the AmeriCorps VISTA, visit here.

Physical fitness is an important part of military service. Service men and women are trained to be in peak physical condition. But according to a 2013 report from the Pentagon, only one in four Americans is fit to serve in the military. Get inspired by service members who have made it a priority to lead healthy lifestyles, in order to serve the country.
At home, veterans are leading fitness movements across America. For example, Team Red, White & Blue is an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of veterans by connecting them to their community through physical activity. Team RWB invites civilians to join in the activity as well, so find a chapter near you!

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