6 Reputable Veterans Charities to Support This Memorial Day

Online | Patch.com | May 28th, 2012

By Shaun Kahmann

If you plan to give, don’t get fooled by phony non-profits. Here are trustworthy charities that will get your donations to the vets who need help.

With Memorial Day on the horizon, many kind folks will be opening their wallets to charities that claim to help ailing veterans and their families.

Unfortunately, more than a few will get taken for a ride by organizations with less-than-scrupulous business practices. A two-year CNN investigation revealed a disabled veterans charity that may be giving only 2 percent of the millions of dollars it has received in donations to veterans.

Thankfully, watchdog organizations like the American Institute of Philanthropy are attempting to curb fraudulent practices by rating charities and publishing the findings.

Grading is based on the percentage of funds charities actually use to provide aid, and grades them from A to F. To receive the highest rating, charitable organizations must use 75 percent or more of their revenue for charitable purposes.

Here are four charities for veterans that are among the highest rated by the institute. And for those who prefer to give locally, charities for veterans based in San Diego county are also included.

Homes for Our Troops

AIP rating: A

Founded in 2004, Homes for Our Troops raises donations to build houses that can accommodate troops who have suffered catastrophic injuries that prevent them from navigating a traditional home. Homes for Our Troops supplements Veterans Administration grants to ensure homes are provided free of charge.

Armed Services YMCA

AIP rating: A

Since the Civil War, the Armed Services YMCA has provided comfort and aid to military children as they cope with the absence of a parent who has been deployed.

Among the many charitable programs the YMCA offers, most are designed to help military children who are struggling socially or academically as a result of having an absent parent. The YMCA runs holiday gift drives and hosts summer camps nationwide for military children.

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

AIP Rating: A+

Sponsored by the Department of the Navy, the Society runs close to 250 offices on and offshore and provides financial assistance in the form of grants and loans to veterans, families and survivors.

The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund

AIP Rating: A+

Since 2004, the Semper Fi Fund has provided immediate aid to Marines who are suffering from ongoing injuries and gives financial assistance to those with perpetual needs and illnesses. The fund helps relieve the cost of hospitalizations and related expenses, including childcare.

Local charities (not rated by AIP)

Care Packages from Home

Started in 2007 by veterans from Carlsbad, this all-volunteer organization sends food and other comforts to troops stationed abroad. The website allows you to request a care package for a family or service member of your choice.

Hire Patriots

Hire Patriots provides former service members with job listings for businesses that are specifically looking for veterans. The service provides listings throughout California and allows veterans to post resumes that local businesses can search.

Remember, always do research before donating. Look for reviews and if watchdog organizations like AIP or CharityWatch.org don’t have information on a charity you are considering, check with the Better Business Bureau.