45 Ways You Can Support Military Families!

Julia-Yeary-at-Rep,-Mark-Pocans-office“How can I help?”

If you are a volunteer, I’m certain you have probably asked yourself this question before! It seems to be one that is woven into the kind-hearted souls of those who strive to give back.

April is National Volunteer Month–a time to reflect upon the good deeds and generosity of a Nation of givers.

Did you know Volunteers are woven into the fabric of the National Military Family Association? Our Association was established 45 years ago by a group of Volunteers wanting to improve the lives of military families. We celebrate and recognize those who have helped pave the way to the Association during Volunteer Appreciation Week, which occurs during the second week of April.

Volunteering can come in all shapes and colors, especially when it comes to helping military families. No good deed is too big or too small. So, in honor of our Association’s 45th anniversary, we’ve made a list of 45 ways you can volunteer to help our service members and their supportive families:

  1. Become part of our Association. Join Today!
  2. Stay current on issues that affect military families.
  3. Send letters of support or sign petitions to Congressional members regarding military matters.
  4. Help fill the void left by deployed service members in the community. Be a youth sports coach or scout leader, etc.
  5. Volunteer with military support organizations like the USO.
  6. Donate monetarily to organizations that support the military and their families.
  7. Spread the word about what’s going on with military families in your state.
  8. Act as an adopted grandparent/aunt/uncle to a military child since they rarely live near their own families.
  9. Send holiday cards to deployed services members.
  10. Mentor a military teen.
  11. Donate to military thrift stores.
  12. Send care packages prepared for service members overseas.
  13. Become a reading buddy for a military child with a deployed parent.
  14. Participate in community ceremonies that honor the military.
  15. Babysit for a military family.
  16. Volunteer at military hospitals.
  17. Donate financially to the education of the children of fallen service members.
  18. Assist or hire a service member who is transitioning out of the military.
  19. Hire a military spouse in your place of business.
  20. Attend important doctor appointments in lieu of the service member so the spouse does not have to be alone.
  21. Donate, time, toys or educational materials to military daycare facilities.
  22. Give a service member your place in line.
  23. House-sit or watch a pet for a service member on temporary duty assignment.
  24. Volunteer to help clean military facilities or grounds.
  25. Tell a uniformed service member how much you appreciate him/ her.
  26. Perform spring cleanup in a service member’s yard; especially if they are deployed.
  27. Shovel snow from the driveway of a service member.
  28. Help military kids make gifts/cards for their parent on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
  29. Cheer loudly and stand tall when the military marches in a community parade.
  30. Put wreathes on graves of the fallen at holidays with Wreaths Across America.
  31. Have a pizza delivered to a military family when their member is deployed and you know they are tired.
  32. Give a military family a gift card to a movie theater.
  33. Offer to help a military spouse with car maintenance when the service member is deployed.
  34. Donate to organizations that support families of wounded service members.
  35. Set up a car pool during deployments to help shuttle busy military kids to activities.
  36. Act as an occasional caregiver for families of a wounded service member so the full time caregiver can take a break.
  37. Surprise a military spouse with a bouquet of flowers and a note that says “Thank you for serving too”!
  38. Let military families that are moving into or out of your community borrow household items or tools.
  39. Pet sit for free.
  40. Drive military families to the airport when they travel to visit their families.
  41. Host a tea/coffee for a group of spouses in your community center/church.
  42. Host a parent’s night out at your church for a military group.
  43. Donate blood.
  44. Follow social networking groups that are associated with military support organizations and repost on your personal pages.
  45. Hang the American flag in front of your home.

Do you have an idea of how you might volunteer to support military families in your community? If so, tell us about it!

Posted by Meredith Moore, Volunteer Services Coordinator, National Capital Region

4 responses to “45 Ways You Can Support Military Families!

  1. Great list of ideas! Shared them with friends in my community…

  2. Yes, yes, so much yes. I live in Wisconsin with two kids (under two) while my husband has been overseas (no command sponsorship) since 2011. Every time it snowed (and it snows A LOT here), One of my neighbors would immediately be using their snow blower on my sidewalk/walkway. They always did it before I even got a chance to get the kids settled so I could go outside and do it myself. They are awesome and I definitely have been paying it forward/getting them back in other ways. I could have cried because it meant so much to me.

  3. Now that the wars are over in Iraq and Afghanistan, I don’t know if the public truly understands that the struggle is not over for most military families. This struggle reaches far beyond the battlefields and can have a lasting effect on several generations in each military family.

    A lengthy economic recession, government budget cuts, a reduction in defense personnel and multiple deployments to war-torn nations has leveled an immeasurable strain upon both military members and their families mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. An unprecedented number of military personnel are being separated at an alarming rate only to find themselves completely unprepared to return to the civilian sector. Furthermore, this rapid reduction in manpower has triggered a backlog of applications for the Veteran’s Administration resulting in significant delay before benefits are being paid.

    Considering the high cost of living in this region, military families in southern California have felt an additional negative impact. The nature of military service often forces a family to live on the sole income of the military member. It is difficult for the spouse to maintain or find employment due to routine changes in duty stations often occurring every 2-4 years resulting in frequent geographical relocations. The challenge to find a job locally is even greater with an unemployment rate ranging from San Diego to Los Angeles of 1.2% to 2.4% higher than the national average. For military families with young children, even when employment can be found, it is often not advantageous economically. Typically living a great distance from family support, these families usually have to rely on paid childcare in order for both parents to work.

    Because of their commitment and sacrifice to our nation, low-income military families find themselves under a mound of debt. Not only will these families likely become dependent on social programs, they may very well reach a point where recovery is highly unlikely.

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