How To Give Back To Our Servicemen And Women

In Features, Magazine by RI Magazine

They put their dreams on hold so we can pursue ours. They say goodbye to their families so we can be at peace with ours. The men and women of our military selflessly put their lives before ours, and too often we take it for granted.

Here’s how we can change it.

BY SJ McSHANE

You can help a deployed service member’s family while they’re away by doing the following:

Yard Work/House Maintenance: Gather a team of people in your neighborhood to help with tasks such as mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, shoveling the driveway when it snows, raking leaves, weeding and any other task that may need attention while a family member is deployed. They need as much help as they can get and something as small as changing a light bulb goes a long way.

Preparing Meals: Offering an occasional meal to a military family—even once a month—will make a huge difference in their lives. Gather up a few of your friends who like to cook and assign a meal to each of you. This will allow the military family to have ready-made meals that they can pull out of the freezer anytime. You can also offer to do their grocery shopping, or pick up their children’s favorite school snacks.

Childcare: For the spouse who is now a single parent, offering child care will relieve a big burden. Providing services such as babysitting, driving their child to sports practice, helping them with homework, and offering to be there in any way you can to assist their child will help lift burdens as the family adjusts to their new life.

Documenting Important Life Moments: If you know the military family, offer to take video of their family at school functions or sporting events. Then offer to mail it out to the deployed who can watch it as a way of catching up.

Emotional Support/Kind Gestures: Dropping by with a coffee, being available to talk, giving a hug, getting them a gift card, leaving a positive note in their mailbox, and simply letting them know that you that you are there for them if they need anything will have a bigger impact than you realize.

Here’s how you can support those on active duty:

Say “THANK YOU”: It is always appreciated when a member of the military hears the words “Thank You.” A lot of people don’t do it because they think it’s awkward to thank a stranger, but these two words can mean a great deal to servicemen and women.

Send Care Packages: If you don’t know the military family personally, contact a military base and offer care packages with items that are much needed such as a CVS gift card, a flash drive, envelopes and stamps for letters, powdered mix drinks such as electrolyte mixes and instant coffee, or a CD with their favorite music. You can also send positive newspaper clippings and pictures of the good things they are doing overseas.

Send Letters: You and your entire family can adopt a single service member. Send letters of appreciation, a list of inspirational quotes, photos of your family, and drawings from your children.

Send an uplifting video: Compile a video of their family members, friends, and neighbors sending special messages, uplifting words of encouragement, telling jokes and letting them know they are missed and cared about.

Shower them with “Thank You” cards: Put their name in the local newspaper or on the radio asking for a shower of “Thank you” or “Thinking of You” cards. Have everyone send them by a certain date, pick them up, put them all together, and send them.

Prayers: Pray for the active military member and his or her family. No matter what the military member’s religious affiliation is, no one will turn down prayer.

For more information on sending care packages, click HERE.

SJ McShane is a fitness author, trainer, and nutritionist. Follow her on Twitter and visit her website.

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