The holiday season should be a time to spend at home surrounded by good food and the people dearest to us. For many of the men and women serving our country, though, this is more of a wishful fantasy than a reality. Every year, countless active military members and veterans spend their holiday away from home, whether on a deployment or in a VA hospital. Many others have to wonder how their families will receive the meals and gifts they hope for despite a limited military paycheck. Thankfully, though, there are plenty of ways that you can help.
Here are some ways you can use this holiday season as an opportunity to give back to those who have served our nation:
Play Santa for distant service members.
Deployed military members sacrifice a lot through their service, and their work doesn’t allow them to take a holiday vacation. Make their time away from home a bit easier by sending them:
- Prepaid calling cards – Many areas where service members are stationed overseas have limited internet service, making video calling difficult or impossible. Calling cards give military members a way to connect with their loved ones back home.
- Seasonal gifts – Toothbrushes, socks and other necessities are always appreciated, but you can also send more festive gifts to the troops. Consider sending a stocking filled with treats, or go through an organization like Trees for Troops to send an entire Christmas tree to military members serving far from home.
- Donated hotel points – If you travel a lot, think about donating the points you’ve earned through your hotel stays to military members or their families. If wounded veterans have to receive their medical care far from home, a free hotel room through a program like Hotels for Heroes can ensure that their loved ones are close during a tough time.
Giving a little more to those serving our country is a great way to make all that distance seem just a bit shorter for our faraway heroes.
Spread holiday cheer for wounded veterans.
Many veterans will spend the holiday season in VA hospitals instead of in their own homes. You can make sure our nation’s wounded vets know that they’re appreciated by making and donating items to your local VA hospital. These gifts in particular are commonly appreciated by VA hospitals:
- Quilts or knitted blankets
- Socks and gloves
If you’re unsure of what to give, call the hospital in advance to ask what items are most needed. If you’re tight on cash, you can also offer to volunteer your time to assist staff, deliver meals and coffee, or help out during recreational activities.
Help a military family in need.
For spouses, parents, and children of those serving in the military, the holiday season can be one of the hardest times of the year. In addition to the emotional strain that comes with having a loved one deployed overseas, many military families live under tight budgets, making it difficult to purchase the gifts and holiday meals that many of us take for granted.
Consider donating money or toys to organizations like Operation Homefront, which has a variety of programs that assist military families year-round. You can also get others involved for a bigger impact – set up a toy collection bin at work, and spread the word amongst your family and friends to encourage them to donate money so military families can have a happy holiday experience.
Happy holidays for our heroes
The holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on not only how much we’ve been given, but also how we can give back. Helping active duty troops, wounded veterans, and military families is the perfect way to make the most wonderful time of the year a bit more wonderful for the men and women serving our country.