Support The Troops
Although the Department of Defense suspended the “any service member” mail programs in 2000, there are several online message centers that you can type a short word of encouragement to send to military personnel.
- Defend America online thank you
- Operation USO Care Package will send a care package on your behalf
- Send an AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange Service) gift certificate to a service member or their family
- Donate phone cards through Operation Uplink
- Help an organization that builds specially-adapted homes for soldiers who become disabled
Support The Families
- The families of military personnel also sacrifice for their country and could use a helping hand if they have a deployed family member. The children struggle with missing a parent, and the spouse suddenly finds him or herself in the role of single parent.
- Here are some suggestions on how to help military families in your community. This is a great way to serve others as a family and to teach your children about the value of helping others.
- Yard Day. Get your entire family involved and help with yard work – mow the grass, pull the weeds, hedge the bushes.
- Fix-It. Can you fix a leaky faucet or at least recommend someone who can? If the family is new in town they may not have a good list of mechanics, plumbers or roofers.
Keeping in Touch
- Keep-In-Touch Baskets. Create a simple basket and fill it with phone cards, stationery, and kids’ supplies (markers, glitter pens, colored paper) for keeping in touch with the deployed member.
- Photo Shoot. If you have a camera and a gift for photography, set aside an hour and a roll of film to take some photos of the family in their home or at a nearby park. The deployed member will love to have a recent family photo.
- High-Tech Communications. If you are skilled in computers, consider helping a military family set up an e-mail account or website. There are numerous free web hosting companies that don’t require software, but allow people to share photos and news. Or if you own a scanner, offer to scan photos, drawings or even that A+ test score so the family can share them through the internet.
- Leave Time. Give the parent a night off by offering to baby-sit. Remember that they are now in a new role of single parenting and could some time away from the house.
- Little Pick-Me-Ups. Let the family know that you are supporting them with signs of appreciation. These are also great projects that your family can do together. Bake cookies. Make dinner. Create an encouragement card. Treat them to a movie night at your house. Give them a family gift certificate to putt-putt golf.
- Lend an Ear. Many spouses struggle during this time and face strong emotions including loneliness, fear, anxiety and frustration. Just being a good listener and faithful friend will make a big difference.
- Holiday Blues. Holidays are the toughest times when a family member is deployed. Remember that most military families don’t live near their relatives and may not be able to travel this holiday season. So, invite a military family over for a holiday meal, buy them a small gift (or make a craft) or offer to baby-sit while the parent does shopping.
- Adopt-A-Family. Consider adopting a military family during deployment. Offer an invitation for them to be an extension of your own family while the service member is deployed. Then treat them as you would other family members. The ideas listed on this page are great ways to show that you care about them.
In the Workplace
- Hire a Military Spouse. Many military spouses face discrimination in the workplace because of their transient lifestyle. Post job opportunities with the Family Support Center at your local military base.
- Military Discounts. If you manage a store, provide discounts for military members and dependents. This will not only help them financially, but will show your support.