There are a few obvious things you can do to help you live longer: Eat fruits and vegetables. Drink in moderation. Focus on fitness. Quit smoking. But did you know that helping others helps you live longer, too? People with purpose tend to live longer, healthier and happier lives, and volunteering is one way to engage in purpose-oriented activities.
Researchers at the University of Michigan found people who volunteered regularly and frequently were at lower risk for mortality than non-volunteers, especially if the reasons they volunteer are other-focused (having compassion for other people) as opposed to self-focused (learning a new skill or enhancing one’s social connections).
Many veterans who are adjusting to life at home find purpose through community impact. Got Your 6, a coalition that works to normalize the depictions of veterans on film and television to dispel common myths about the veteran population, released a report that found veterans are more likely than similar civilians to volunteer more hours, to vote consistently and to serve in civic organizations.
Frank Michanowicz, for example, has been serving as a substitute teacher in Nashville for more than 30 years, making the World war II veteran the city’s longest-serving sub.
“When I wake up, I’m so excited to get to school and see those happy faces who are waiting for me,” Michanowicz told NBC News. “They give me energy — it somehow transfers from them to me. Children need people like me, and it’s my pleasure to be around them and be inspired by them. If you find your passion in life, why stop?”
The Mission Continues, a nonprofit based in St. Louis, provides opportunities for veterans to refocus their military skill sets so they can continue serving the country as leaders in their communities. In 2016, more than 300 Mission Continues Fellows and thousands of volunteers at more than 700 service projects contributed nearly 200,000 hours of community service nationwide. If you or a loved one are a veteran of the United States military, learn more about opportunities to report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues.