Whether it’s one of the big holidays that remind us of our armed services – Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Veteran’s Day – or anytime you are thinking of all those you serve on our behalf, finding ways to support the troops can be helpful for veterans and their families and can be unifying for the community as a whole. Coming together to work toward a common mission of serving those who serve is a great way to get the community involved and give back.
Whether you have a military presence in your community or not, you can support the troops in general by offering discounts, access, special military-only days, and promote recognition among businesses and nonprofit organizations. You can choose to do this on special holidays or all year round. You should also consider whether you want to extend your reach to active duty service members only or include families, retired military members and those who have previously served. This is a relatively simple way to show that you support the troops in your community and beyond.
You can also show your support by getting your group or organization involved in supporting the troops. Classrooms of students can write cards or notes to deployed service members. Civic groups and churches can gather to put together care packages of snacks, treats, books and magazines, small activities like puzzles and board games, and local favorites.
When military members are called on deployment, come home with life-altering injuries and illness, or give the ultimate sacrifice for their country, their families back at home face immeasurable responsibilities and concerns. Offering specific support to these service members and their families can bring unparalleled care and aid during these difficult times. Bringing meals, delivering groceries, maintaining and repairing vehicles, cleaning the house, or offering to do laundry are all simple tasks that can take the daily burden off troops and their families facing other obstacles. If medical bills or financial issues are a concern, coordinating a fundraiser is a great way to support them. Especially if service members are dealing with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, loss of limbs, or other impairments, daily life changes drastically. Help from the community helps families adjust. Coordinate people in your community to step in and help!
A Culture of Support
Making your community a place of support for troops begins with a culture of support. This is easiest for communities with military bases and populations nearby. It’s natural for those communities to make connections with military service members and their families to learn about their general and specific needs. Building a culture of support can be difficult, but making connections locally or nationally is the first step. Holidays such as Memorial Day or Fourth of July when military service members are on the minds of the community are a good time to start building that culture of support lacking in your neighborhood.
Where to Start
If you don’t already have a direct connection to a service member or military family, you might have to do a bit of research. Look for local support organizations, such as the USO. You may be able to volunteer with them directly or they may be able to point you to the people you need to support the troops in your area. If you do have a military base nearby, you can contact a command or ombudsmen. Let them know who you are and which organizations you are with, as well as your desire to support your local military community. They can let you know where and how you might be able to help.