So Veterans Day is just around the corner and you’re wondering what you can do to celebrate the troops and show your appreciation. After you call up any current or past service members in your family, do something to honor the rest of the brave troops for their hard work and dedication.
Here are some practical ways to support the troops this Veterans Day.
An easy way to support the troops is by donating items service members may need, such as books and snacks, or making monetary donations to organizations that send care packages. Here are a few ways to get you started with donating:
- Cell Phones: Support the troops by donating a used cell phone to an organization like Cell Phones for Soldiers. This organization uses the money received from recycling used phones to obtain calling cards, which allow soldiers to make international phone calls to their loved ones.
- Care Packages: Soldiers are often in need of things that help them pass the time and stay in contact with family members and friends. For example, Books for Soldiers accepts care packages containing books, movies, CDs, batteries, postage, personal hygiene products and factory-packaged, nonperishable food items, such as soup, jerky and granola bars. Any Soldier accepts care packages for soldiers on duty in Iraq, and Operation Homefront Hugs accepts care package donations and organizes an adopt-a-service-member program.
- Money: The organizations that support members of the military by sending care packages and organizing volunteer efforts need money for rent, utilities, supplies, shipping and a range of operational costs. Monetary donations to these organizations make it possible for them to continue providing support.
Organizations that support the troops rely on volunteers for a number of tasks. Volunteers can help raise money, collect donations, process mailed-in packages, answer questions from the public and service members, and handle paperwork.
In particular, the USO seeks volunteers to help with its many programs, including preparing packages with special items for service members who are away from their families during the holidays. Volunteers may also help facilitate the collection, packaging and shipping of everything from sports equipment and art supplies to comfortable chairs and gaming systems meant to provide entertainment and comfort to deployed troops.
Operation Gratitude seeks help with such things as collecting and organizing cell phones and making paracord bracelets for service members. Paracord bracelets are made from nylon rope and can be used in emergency situations for everything from constructing a shelter to starting a fire.
Military Family Support
Sometimes supporting service members means helping the families they leave behind during deployments. Often, military families struggle with meeting expenses and dealing with the absence of a parent. Donations of gift cards or gift certificates for use at a grocery store or military commissary can help a military family in need.
Likewise, monetary donations can help a military family pay outstanding bills. Many organizations also collect donations of toys and books for children of deployed service members. Operation Homefront, for instance, helps provide soldiers’ families with everything from financial help and transportation to home repairs and baby items.
Expressing Your Appreciation
Some forms of support don’t cost anything. You can send military personnel letters filled with thanks and encouraging words. However, service members also need help getting their own letters and cards back in the hands of their loved ones.
Operation Write Home combines letters of support from United States citizens with packages of blank greeting cards service members can send to their family and friends. You can even express your appreciation by posting general messages of gratitude via social media or giving the troops shout outs on the radio.
You can support the troops not only by aiding those who are actively deployed, but also by supporting those who have served in the past. Here are a few organizations that provide support to United States Veterans:
- Hire Heroes USA:This organization helps unemployed veterans find jobs. By volunteering or donating to Hire Heroes USA, you can help a veteran maintain his or her independence and self-sufficiency.
- Home for Our Troops: By volunteering to help this organization or providing financial support, you can ensure that disabled veterans have safe, comfortable homes.
- Disabled American Veterans: If you donate to this organization, you’re funding a range of benefits to disabled veterans. The benefits can include discounts on vehicle purchases, discounts on prescription medications, legal services, employment resources and assistance filing veterans’ benefit claims with the federal government. As a volunteer with Disabled American Veterans, you can help by providing transportation to veterans hospitals or even by volunteering in medical facilities that treat veterans.
How will you celebrate this Veterans Day? What steps will you take to support the troops? We’d love to hear your plans! Share with us below or tag @AptGuide on Twitter.
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Photo Credit: matt northam