01 May – How To Support Military Members, Veterans, and Their Families
Contributing Author: Kelli Brewer, DeployCare.org
The struggles of military families aren’t always obvious. They may look like a normal family at social gatherings, but at home, military families have to cope with long separations, financial challenges, and the worry that a deployed spouse may not come home. It’s a lot for any family to bear, but there are ways you can help.
Frequent moves make it difficult for military spouses to build careers. As a result, many military families experience financial challenges. You can show appreciation for this sacrifice by raising money to support military families.
These are causes to consider for your fundraising efforts:
- Fundraising to finance service animals for service members and veterans in need.
- Fundraising to pay medical costs not covered by military or veterans benefits.
- Donating funds and food to local food pantries to nourish families when money is tight.
- Creating scholarships to fund extracurricular activities for military children.
- Christmas present drives for military children.
- Raising money for annual military appreciation events.
You can also donate directly to charitable organizations that support service members, veterans, and their families. Always screen organizations for legitimacy before donating.
There are many hands-on ways to support military members and their families, especially during deployment when military spouses have to pull double-parenting duty.
- Develop support groups for military spouses and children.
- Offer free childcare to families with a deployed parent, or arrange “Parents Nights Out” events so military couples can enjoy quality time together.
- Encourage children to befriend military children at school and include them in play dates.
- Recruit an expert to offer personal finance classes to military families and veterans. This specialist should also go over insurance and life planning resources, such as Medicare for veterans, which can be a confusing tool to navigate without an expert’s assistance and an online roadmap for signing up and selecting the best coverage.
- Offer handyman services to military families, or connect military families new to the area with reputable repair services.
- Send care packages and letters to deployed service members.
Make It a Career
Do you want to do more to support military families in your community? If you feel destined to serve our service members, you can do it in a big way by pursuing a career that supports active duty military and veterans.
With these rewarding careers, you can make serving the military your life’s work:
- Become a social worker. As a military social worker, you’ll help service members and their families deal with the challenges of a military career, navigate the transition to civilian life, and access important resources. Military social workers work on military bases, at military medical facilities, at VA health centers, or in the community. A social work career requires a Master of Social Work degree that includes 900 to 1,200 hours of fieldwork.
- Work for the USO. The United Service Organizations, more commonly known as the USO, is a nonprofit with a mission to uplift and entertain service members and their families. USO centers are located around the world, including on US military bases. Apply for a career with the USO, or donate your skills by volunteering.
- Apply for a civilian military career. It’s not only service members who work on military bases. There are thousands of civilians across countless professions who keep military bases running so that service members can focus on their most important work.
Service members and their families make enormous sacrifices to defend our nation’s freedom on a daily basis. While we can’t repay the loss suffered by many military families, we can do our best to support the military and show gratitude for their service. Use these ideas to support our military at home and in your community.
All views in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Food Action (CFA).