Tag Archives: volunteers

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

Our Volunteers Rock!

This week, we’re celebrating Volunteer Appreciation Week, and what a huge impact our Volunteers have had our both our Association, and the military community!

If you’re looking to find a place where you can give your time and make a difference, consider joining our amazing corps of Volunteers!

So, what do our Volunteers do?

  • Provide local military community information to the Association to support our advocacy efforts on behalf of military families
  • Write for the Association
  • Attend local meetings on behalf of the Association
  • Supply content for MyMilitaryLife, our Association App
  • Host Association information tables in local communities
  • Review, rate, and evaluate applications for Association programs such as our Military Spouse Scholarships


Whether or not you’re affiliated with the military, our Association – along with thousands of military families around the world – could use your voice to advocate for them! Interested? Apply now!

Our Volunteers are a critical part of our Association’s mission and we couldn’t do it without them! Our Volunteers Rock!

Shannon-SebastianPosted by Shannon Sebastian, Online Engagement Manager

Volunteer With Us! Change the Rules of the Game!

photo-1-(3)Being a volunteer means doing what you love and fighting for issues you are passionate about. As a military spouse, you might be inclined to think you don’t make much of a difference in the Uniformed Service. Don’t be fooled! All it takes is your strong voice and persistence to change the lives of military families everywhere.

When you join the Association as a Volunteer, you are immediately welcomed to this extended military family. You meet and interact with fellow military spouses, whom you can relate to. The more involved you get, the more you see the difference you make. When I first heard about the Association, I was amazed at what a handful of military spouses were able to accomplish. I did not know much about the military, but I immediately knew I wanted to get involved and help military families. Having a background in journalism and communication, I decided to contribute my skills and write for the Association’s publications. This has been a very rewarding experience, because I could make the voices of military families heard.

What I love most about volunteering for the Association is knowing that what I do affects military families at a national level. Through monthly reporting to the Association, Volunteers give a voice to the issues impacting their community. That’s what it’s all about. You don’t need to wait for someone else to take a stand, you can make all the difference by sharing what you know today!

It all starts with the dedicated Volunteer who introduced you to the Association in the first place. From there it grows into a network of like-minded military spouses. By representing the Association at various events, you gain credibility and people begin paying attention to your message. The network you create will not only support you in your efforts and offer mentorship, but can also help you land your dream job. Connections and networks made through Volunteering with our Association go with you wherever you move!

The most exciting part of being a Volunteer is the connections I’ve made along the way. It has been a wonderful journey that opened the door to a lot of opportunities and ultimately lead to my current position with the Association, as a Content Specialist for MyMilitaryLife app.

Where will your volunteer efforts take you? Become a Volunteer today and find out! Together we are stronger!

Are you interested in volunteering with us? Let us know in the comment section, or apply here!

Marlis Perez RiveraPosted by Marlis Rivera, Content Specialist, MyMilitaryLife

Military Spouses Take Action: Volunteer with us!

The power of volunteeringHooray! 2014 is here! For some, a new year means taking things OFF of their busy plates. For others, the more they can pile on, the better! In either case, there’s never been a better time to  volunteer and do something that makes a difference. It might be helping out at the animal shelter, local food bank, or taking on the troop leader position. But I have one more that I’d like you to think about: volunteer with the National Military Family Association.

Just think about it. In 2013, your family was affected by sequestration, benefits cuts, and lower pay raises. Threats to programs, services, benefits, or opportunities for military families continue everyday. So, being an advocate for your military family is something you already do. But volunteering with the National Military Family Association allows you to  help all military families.

You can be the voice of your local military community. You can help create change. Here are five great reasons why you should choose us.

  • We offer you a mentor. From the first day you are appointed, you will have your own personal mentor, called a regional Coordinator. Your Coordinator is a trained volunteer manager and a military spouse! Together, you will create your personal volunteer experience. Have a talent or professional skill to share? We’ll find a way to help you utilize your knowledge.
  • We provide you with online training opportunities. Yes, we have a robust online training program for you. Numerous webinars, resources, supplies, publications, and a direct link to our subject matter experts.
  • We offer opportunities to network with other Volunteers. We have a closed LinkedIn group for all of our Volunteers to connect together. Ask questions, share ideas, or just find out what others think about their volunteer experience.
  • We offer opportunities for internal scholarships, internships, and jobs that are ONLY available to our Volunteers! We give a $1,000 scholarship to one Volunteer each year (Julia Abrams Scholarship). We offer a six-month internship with a small stipend (Sydney Talley Hickey Internship). Looking for a job? This is a great place to work! Some jobs require you to live local to the DC area; however we have several remote positions available too. We have employed people who lived in Italy, Hawaii, Texas, Alaska, North Carolina, Florida, California, and Illinois!
  • We have a 45 year history of successfully advocating on behalf of military families. Since 1969, we have been fighting for benefits to strengthen and protect military families. Beginning with the Survivor Benefit Plan, we know how to work with our Nation’s and Service leaders. We provide scholarships to speed the path to employment. For 10 years we have helped ease the pain of deployment and reintegration with families and kids. We have funded research to support what your needs are and what programs are valuable.

By volunteering, with the National Military Family Association you are part of a tradition of volunteers who knew they could make a difference!

Come join us in making a difference for your family, and other military families!

christinaPosted by Christina Jumper, Volunteer Services Director

On the Hill: Calling on Congress to end sequestration

Morning-Brief1Last week, on September 12, the National Military Family Association was joined by more than fifty staff, Board members, Volunteers and dedicated partners in our fight to #EndSequestration.

The #EndSequestration Team met at our headquarters in Alexandria, VA where they received matching t-shirts, a bag containing our freshly printed books, and receive a brief on the day’s events. Donning bright blue t-shirts with the words “#EndSequestration” on the back, the team boarded a bus and headed to Capitol Hill.

Following in the footsteps of our founding mothers, we divided into teams and headed to meet with all 535 Members of Congress to hand deliver our #EndSequestration book. We met with several Members of Congress, military and defense legislative assistants, and other staffers along the way.

Rep-Bill-Keating

The message was clear – the short-term impact of sequestration hurts military families, yet the long term consequences will be catastrophic.

Our #EndSequestration team reflected on their experiences of the day and shared the following:

Chairman of the Board Mary Scott, an Army spouse and mother of six children, who have all served in the military, stated , “I am very proud of [our] efforts in organizing this event. If we are who we say we are – strong advocates for military families – we must be willing to present their needs and challenges directly to those who can make a difference. This effort, on behalf of those we serve, delivered a powerful message in a personal way. I was very proud to introduce myself as a military family member and a representative of the National Military Family Association.”

Association volunteer Alicia McAfee said her first-hand experience advocating for military families left her optimistic that the unraveling yellow ribbon of support can be restored to its full potential.

rep-boehner-office-2

“Every office we visited was very welcoming. I definitely believe our voices were heard. I’m optimistic that the unraveling yellow ribbon of support can be restored to its full potential. It was encouraging to have other people on the Hill comment on our t-shirts and thank us for our efforts to end sequestration,” McAfee said after arriving back at our headquarters on Thursday.

After three dedicated hours of storming the Hill, we headed back to the bus to return to our headquarters. Some felt empowered; others hoped they did enough to get our message across. But all were appreciative to have this direct experience with the legislative process. This is the very foundation on which our government operates – by the people, for the people. And change doesn’t happen unless the people make their voices heard.

Delivering the albums to Congress is the beginning of the battle. We know we raised awareness about the concerns military families have about the long-term impact of sequestration. We will continue to demand that Congress keep their promises to our service members and their families by working to #EndSequestration.

Together we’re stronger.

Shannon-SebastianPosted by Shannon Sebastian, Online Engagement Manager

Association Takes the #EndSequestration Case to Congress

Storm-Capitol-HillToday, September 12, more than fifty National Military Family Association staff, Board members, Volunteers, and friends head to Capitol Hill to let our elected leaders know how sequestration is hurting our Nation’s military families. Last month, we asked families to send us photos and stories highlighting the difficulties they’ve faced as they’ve experienced sequestration in their communities.

Military families from all over the world showed us sequestration means more difficulty in getting care for their sick child, delays in arranging moves or in processing changes in pay, and reduced training time for the service member. As they encountered these hardships, military families also shared how much their service members’ ability to protect our Nation is now at risk.

We compiled families’ sequestration photos and stories into a photo album that we’re delivering to every Member of Congress today.

Our message is simple: The arbitrary, across-the-board cuts caused by sequestration are hurting military families, their communities, and service members’ readiness to perform their mission. Congress must end sequestration!

Military families are taxpayers, too. They understand the Department of Defense must share in efforts to cut government spending. BUT, those cuts must be made in a balanced way that does not impose a disproportionate burden on our military and the people who serve.

Remember, sequestration was intentionally designed to be so devastating to our defense that it would never be allowed to happen.

But it did happen.

Our purpose today is to show our Nation’s leaders the faces devastated by the aftermath of sequestration’s destruction–our military families. We present our photo album as evidence that sequestration is not a painless way to reduce the deficit. The devastation for our military families will be worse every year sequestration continues. It must stop. NOW.

The National Military Family Association thanks the families who shared their sequestration stories and photos. We thank our partners in this effort—Macho Spouse.com, Military Partners and Families Coalition, Military OneClick, Military Spouse Magazine, and Spouse Buzz—for their outreach to military families and for joining us on Capitol Hill today. We appreciate the work of our friends in The Military Coalition to seek an end to sequestration.

Sequestration is unraveling the yellow ribbon of military family support. If our Nation’s leaders allow sequestration to continue, the yellow ribbon will continue to fray. Please keep our military families strong. #EndSequestration!

Together we’re stronger!

How Are Military Families Doing? What Researchers Are Discovering.Posted by Joyce Wessel Raezer, Executive Director

Build Your Resume: Volunteer with our Association!

group-of-volunteersSummer is winding down. The kids are headed back to school. Maybe you don’t have kids but you’re looking for a new way to gain experience and make a difference? The military has, once again, moved your family to a new location and hopefully, you’re settling in. Now what? Volunteering is a great way to meet people and learn more about your new community. Have you considered volunteering with the National Military Family Association?

Let me share a few reasons why you should volunteer with us:

  • Get out and meet new people! While volunteering, you will meet and talk to a variety of people all over the world and create lasting friendships.
  • Tap into your passion for military families! Where better than with an organization that is the voice of military families. Our Volunteers are out in the field letting us know what is happening within their military community.
  • Add to your professional resume! Volunteering not only benefits our Association, it’s also a great addition to your resume. Employers look favorably on volunteer experience. Volunteering allows you to work with professionals who will be valuable references in the future. It is a win-win situation!
  • Develop new skills! Our Association offers many different volunteer opportunities such as writing, editing, and researching. The best part is that many of our volunteer opportunities can be completed at home on your own schedule.

Be a part of something meaningful that will enhance the quality of life for military families. Being a volunteer with the National Military Family Association is a position that you can take wherever you move! Our volunteers are global, and we want you to be a part of our Volunteer Corps.

For more information about volunteering with the National Military Family Association, please contact Christina Jumper by email: CJumper@MilitaryFamily.org or apply today!

Do you have a great story about a volunteer experience? Share it with us!

karen-cookPosted by Karen Cook, Volunteer Services Coordinator, North Region

An Advocate is Born: Affecting change for military families

Susan-Reynolds-and-son

We have all heard the phrase from William Shakespeare, “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

A few years ago I was content with my starring role in the production of “Susan’s Military Life”. An active volunteer, educator, mentor, and friend were my starring roles. That changed when my infant son was denied healthcare coverage for a cranial reshaping helmet. I was offered a different role – the role of a lifetime – and I couldn’t pass it up.

The National Military Family Association and I were introduced in October 2011 when I was asked to be a volunteer. From there I discovered a world of advocacy that I never knew existed. The Association was working on issues ranging from education to healthcare. I fell in love and knew I was ‘home’.

In July 2012, I was invited to a conference in Washington, D.C. to tell my son’s story. In two days I had eight meetings on Capitol Hill and my performance had to be flawless. Fortunately, I had great support from the Association’s Government Relations department, as well as Kara Oakley from the Children’s Hospital Association.

The National Military Association encouraged me to use my voice to advocate for my son and all military children. I learned not to be afraid to share my story because I had a gift for speaking. You see, according to the Association, my story and my voice is powerful and should not be forgotten.

A year has passed since those meetings, and so many doors have opened because I’m a volunteer with National Military Family Association. The Association has helped me define my story and because of their support, I’m a stronger, more confident volunteer and advocate for military families.

As the saying goes, “a star is born every second.” In my case, an advocate was born and is supported by the National Military Family Association.

Susan ReynoldsBy Susan Reynolds, National Military Family Association Volunteer

A Luncheon for One Special Volunteer: helping military families

Volunteer-award-blog-imageWhen you volunteer for the National Military Family Association you know that you are making a difference in the lives of military families globally. This is one reason, Marielle Beniquez, winner of the 2013 Volunteer Corps Service Award, chose to become an Association representative.

Armed with knowledge, experience and love for what she does, Marielle has taken advantage of every existing opportunity to get involved in her community by consistently promoting the interest of the Association. From newcomers to military families already stationed in Tampa, Marielle has been a point of contact, a friend and a problem solver who made wise use of the resources she has access to as a volunteer. Moreover, she has always been up-to-date with new policies, local events and took leadership in initiating local gatherings and events from which military families would benefit.

In order to honor Marielle and present the award, the Association organized a luncheon in her local community at the MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida. “When Marielle talks about the work of the Association, her enthusiasm makes you excited about joining and volunteering,” says Christina Jumper, Volunteer Services Director. For Marielle, to have Christina present the award to her in person, in front of her family and close friends is profoundly important. “Now I have to do more of my best to be consistent and get my leadership more at the level where I can do my volunteering effectively,” Marielle says.

A Luncheon for One Special Volunteer Marielle’s favorite part about volunteering for the Association is getting to know people and networking. She is a firm believer in sharing the information from her community to the Association for the benefit of military families everywhere. Her previous military service in the Air Force has taught her to have integrity first, to put service before self and achieve excellence in all that she does.  Marielle would stop at nothing to help military families. Even during rough medical times, spouse deployment and surgeries, she is still present in her community, actively fighting for the Association’s causes.

During the past year, Marielle has recruited a number of new volunteers in the region, worked extensive hours and attended events that would benefit various groups within the military community: deployed families, local church, school and child development center, spouses and parents. Additionally, Marielle has participated in extensive trainings both for the Association and for personal goals. She has also specialized in mental health, which paved the way for her to achieve her dream of further helping military families.

Marielle is always informed regarding everything that is happening in her community and she always has a solution for military spouses who seek her help. She at times might resemble an aggressive journalist who would go above and beyond to accomplish the mission of seeking the right information, follow up and spread the word in order to benefit the whole community. What is more, she will always have a smile on her face.

Marlis Perez RiveraBy Marlis Perez Rivera, National Military Family Association Volunteer, Tampa, FL

Military Spouse Motto: “I’ll see you when I see you!”

Military spouse motto: I'll see you when I see you!There are many things to get used to when you are introduced to the military. There is the “hurry up and wait,” the “probably won’t call you for a week,” the “it’s out of my control,” and my favorite—“you will see me when you see me.” Let it be known that my husband and I appreciate food on our table. Matt is honored to be a part of the Coast Guard and I am right there with him. However, I would be lying if I said everything ran smoothly all the time. In fact, just writing that statement made my nose grow.

Us support spouses learn from the beginning that we need to remain calm and flexible when making schedules for the family, fun, and travel. I had a very hard time learning this concept. Matt would tell me that he would be home one day and by the next day, he would find out he wouldn’t be coming back for another two days. Or the ship was due to pull in at 10 am and then didn’t show up until 6 pm. Or we’re set to go on week-long vacation and he is kept back two days for inspections so our little trip is delayed. I have been told before that he will be home a week early just to see him a week after his arrival date. So, I decided to stop asking.

Matt thinks it is a control thing with me. But, I am willing to bet that other spouses would like a definite answer on when their husbands or wives are coming home. It is about planning and the excitement of seeing one another again. We get our hopes up at the prospect of meeting them at the dock and our first embrace since they left the house. From the moment our spouses leave, we are counting the seconds until they are home. It would just be nice to know when they are actually coming home.

So, after many disappointments, I learned that I will see my spouse when I see him. My advice is to stop looking at the clock. Try to keep busy. If you are anxious and bored, that is your issue, not your spouse’s. Too many times I see people get angry with their spouse about scheduling and arrivals. It isn’t worth it to be mad at someone who has no control over the situation either. We confuse excitement with anger and then the arrival is ruined. Learn to accept the choice we made to marry into the military and know that this is how it is. It’s our way of life and we’re stronger because of it.

Posted by Rebecca Brinkley, Volunteer with the National Military Family Association. A version of this post originally appeared on Rebecca’s blog I Know It’s Tough.