There are tons of ways to help the men and women who've done so much to protect our country. It doesn't take much to show your support.
Step 1: Say "thank you" When you encounter military personnel, thank them for their service and contribution.
Step 2: Send a letter Your enlisted friend or family member can always use some kind words and an update from home. Send a letter or email, or even a video or DVD of your good wishes. If you’d like to send mail to troops you don’t know, sites like amillionthanks.org and penpalsforsoldiers.org can help.
TIP: Upload a supportive video to YouTube and send along a link to your serviceperson.
Step 3: Donate In addition to giving money, charitable organizations can help you donate computers, clothing, gift certificates, frequent flyer miles, phone cards, and lots of other needed items.
TIP: Don’t send unsolicited letters or contributions—the military has deemed them a safety risk. To contribute to someone you don’t know, go through a philanthropic organization.
Step 4: Send a care package Soldiers can always use non-perishable food, books, DVDs, games, gadgets, and gifts from home. Pack enough for them to share, and ship away!
TIP: Organizations like the USO allow you to donate money towards care packages.
Step 5: Adopt a soldier or platoon Nonprofit organizations like Adopt A Soldier Now and AdoptaPlatoon allow you to focus your good deeds on a single soldier or a select military unit. Your efforts can help provide letters, holiday cards, care packages, money, and volunteer help.
Step 6: Celebrate military holidays May is National Military Appreciation Month. Go to nmam.org to find out about events in your area, and be sure to celebrate Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Veterans Day, as well as other military holidays.
Step 7: Organize Rally your hometown! Organize fundraisers, collection drives, and local events to benefit the troops.
Step 8: Volunteer A little elbow grease is always a huge help. Volunteers are always needed for projects that benefit both soldiers and veterans.
TIP: Check sites like americasupportsyou.mil and stripes.com, which offer aggregated lists of charitable organizations that might need your help.
Step 9: Help enlisted families Whether you invite them over for game night, anonymously help out with the bills, or upgrade their internet connectivity through Operation Homelink, you can help soldiers by helping their families.
FACT: The USO, or United Service Organizations, was developed in 1941 at the behest of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.