How do you thank someone who’s willing to risk their life for yours? When it comes to military service members and their families, advocates say there are many avenues for giving back meaningfully.
As part of its “Give More Than Thanks” campaign celebrating 80 years of being the “Force Behind the Forces,” the United Service Organizations (USO) is inviting Americans to take actions that can make a tangible difference in the lives of service members. Here are five ideas to get you started:
- Offer Skills or Services. Many service members face difficulties translating the skills and experience they acquired in the military to civilian jobs. Others struggle to adjust to the norms of the civilian workforce. Meanwhile, military spouses face professional obstacles throughout their service member’s career due to constant moves and deployments. Consider offering career advice or volunteering to guest lecture via military transition programs, such as the USO Pathfinder Transition Program, which equips service members and military spouses with tools needed to tackle the civilian job market. If you own a business or are a leader in a company, advocate for hiring qualified veterans. By offering practical support, you’re not only thanking service members, you’re helping build an inclusive community that bridges the civilian-military divide.
- Send a Care Package. Care packages filled with treats and reminders of home let troops know that friends, family and the American people are thinking of them, even from thousands of miles away. However, the process of sending military care packages can be complicated. One easy way to do so is through USO Wishbook, where you can select a symbolic gift from a catalog to be sent to service members.
- Support Military Spouses. Deployments are challenging for both service members and their spouses. Reach out to a military spouse whose service member is deployed and offer to cook their family dinner, or to pick up groceries. Simply reaching out to see how they are doing can also make all the difference.
- Volunteer. Put your gratitude into action. Many USO locations across the country need volunteers who can facilitate programs and events – virtually or safely in person – that provide the military community with the support needed to carry out their missions.
- Donate. The USO has been expressing its thanks to service members by supporting the troops since World War II. Today, that gratitude is shown in USO locations around the globe; these brick-and-mortar centers serve as a home away from home for deployed service members, and a place of respite for the larger military community. USO programming keeps deployed troops connected to loved ones, provides resources for service members and their families and boosts the morale of the entire military community through entertainment and other supportive events. Charitable donations to the USO help make that mission possible.
To learn more about the USO’s work and discover additional ways to give more thanks, visit USO.org/morethanthanks and follow the conversation at #MoreThanThanks.
“Our service members and their families’ sacrifices require us to rise to the challenge. All Americans, united in spirit and action, can change the lives and communities of our military, and thus, our country, for the better,” says J.D. Crouch II, CEO and president of the USO.