I am often asked by friends and family what they can do to “support the troops”. Here are a few suggestions:
– send Halloween, Christmas, and Easter candy to someone you know who is deployed. This is a perfect way to keep your kids (and yourself) from over-indulging, and you will make SO many service members VERY happy.
– participate in a sporting event that benefits military charities. Some examples: the Tough Mudder, the Murph Challenge, the Marine Corps Marathon, and Team RWB.
– attend events held by military charities. Check out the Wounded Warrior Project, the Lone Survivor Foundation, and any other military charity for upcoming events. Other organizations that have large veteran membership, like the Free Masons and Order of the Eastern Star, often hold military charity fundraisers, too.
– contact your local VFW, American Legion, Elk Lodge, military hospitals, military senior living homes, and other local organizations. Ask how you can volunteer or donate your time, money, or talents. Volunteers are sorely needed.
– beyond military-focused organizations, volunteer at your local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, food pantry, animal shelter, hospital, and other local organizations. Unfortunately, many of our veterans find themselves homeless and in need of these services.
– follow military organizations on Facebook and Twitter, and retweet or share their event and fundraising information. *This has the lowest cost to you and has the greatest impact to others.
– if a friend of a friend passed away in service to our country, ask your mutual friend if the family has a donation page. Never donate to families that you do not have a direct connection to – anyone can set-up a donation page, and scam artists capitalize by setting-up fake donation pages (sick but true). If you know for certain that a donation page is valid, donate. NO donation is too small, and money is sorely needed by the family of the fallen.
– ask a military spouse or a military parent how you can support their deployed loved one. Perhaps you can send a care package or two. Often, sending a constant stream of care packages is very expensive for families. Other times, the service member would like something that is not readily available to the family (this is the case with my husband and me!). Be sure to ask what the service member actually wants, and only send what they request or what their loved one suggests. Because many of our service members are deployed in a location where they can order things that they need online or buy (such as socks and deodorant), items like a favorite candy and magazines may be the most desirable items for a care package.
– support the service member’s loved ones at home. Deployed service members are happiest when their family is taken care of and supported while they are away. Ask your military spouse friends if they’d like a night out, or if you can provide babysitting services once a month. If one of their kids is sick, bring over dinner, or ask if you can do a drug store run for them. Small incidents at home can quickly spiral into emergencies when a spouse is deployed, and nothing puts more stress on a deployed service member then trouble at home.
A few of my favorite military charities:
The Wounded Warrior Project – relief to our wounded warriors and caregivers
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors – direct relief and support to families of the fallen. They do GREAT and necessary work.
The Murph Challenge (formally known as the Memorial Day Murph)
The Lone Survivor Foundation
Navy Marine Corps Relief Society – direct relief funding for all service families
The VFW – Veterans of Foreign Wars
Fisher House – the Ronald McDonald House of the military
Homes for Our Troops – provides specially adapted, free homes to wounded warriors
Dogs on Deployment – this is a FABULOUS organization! Check them out!
The 296 Project – combating PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)
Operation Homefront – all service family relief
The American Red Cross Military Assistance Program
Toys for Tots
Red Circle Foundation – Spec Ops family relief
Paws for Purple Hearts
Military Working Dog Adoptions
GI Go Fund
Team Red, White, & Blue
Any Soldier (send care packages to deployed service members)
For a longer list of charities, visit this page on Military.com
Do you have a favorite military charity that I should add to this list, or any suggestions for how people can ‘Support the Troops’? Please share in the comments and I’ll add your ideas and charity suggestions!