Libraries already serve veterans every day. We’ve all seen the Octogenarian with a military service cap on, but we’re also assisting the less obvious young men and women veterans. They might be in need of specialized assistance or they might just need access to services you already offer. Either way, there are many simple ways that library staff can support this group.
The best way to get started is to work with your local Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). As you are probably aware this department is notoriously understaffed and underfunded, so they will likely be grateful for your partnership. Many VA branches will have a staff member available to provide official training on ways that you can support veterans. They will also have contacts within the veteran community for people you can partner with to fill needs and advertise services.
After you have begun working with the VA, you will want to reach out to the veterans that are in your service area. Holding a round-table discussion with a small group of local veterans is a great way to learn their needs. Most of the time their needs will conveniently line up with services that the library already offers. They will likely need, periodic meeting space, specific computer classes, help with job searches or any of the other services you already offer.
As Veterans Day approaches it is a good time to analyze the services that you provide for this group and make improvement where you can. A lot of libraries are almost as understaffed and underfunded as the VA, so just do the best that you can with what you have. Since so many veteran needs overlap with library services, a simple invitation to participate might be all that you need to provide.
Let's Collaborate! How does your library serve veterans? Comment below:
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