By Danielle DeSimone
As tensions rise throughout the Middle East, Americans all around the country are asking one thing: what can we do to support the troops?
While our men and women in uniform are facing dangers on the front lines, thousands of miles away from home, we can still ensure that both our service members and their military families are remembered and supported during times of conflict in just a few, simple ways.
1. Reach out to your military community
There is no better time to reach out to the service members, military spouses and military families in your community than in times of heightened tension and conflict that involve our men and women in uniform.
According to the Blue Star Families 2019 Military Family Lifestyles Survey, only 12% of the military community feel that the general public understands the sacrifices required of military families, and 40% feel that they don’t even belong in their civilian community.
Now is the time to pick up the phone and ask your friends in the military community how they’re doing. Aside from just texting or calling, you can even organize a phone tree to make sure these military families always have someone to check in on them, and ensure that they don’t feel forgotten.
Sometimes, just the simple act of reaching out to connect and acknowledge our military community’s sacrifice and high-stress lifestyle can make all the difference – especially during times of deployment.
2. Volunteer to help our service members
If you’d like to roll up your sleeves and take action, volunteering is a great way to support our troops. Find your local USO center and see if there are volunteer opportunities with the USO!
From airport lounges to forward operating bases, our USO locations can be found all around the world, and we rely on our team of volunteers to keep them going. Here, you’ll be able to greet service members in the airport, weary from travel or on their way to their next duty station, or help with any of our programs that bring some sense of relief and levity to families dealing with the deployment of a loved one.
Regardless of how you volunteer, our USO centers and the service members who use them are always grateful for an extra set of helping hands.
3. Set the table
When a military spouse’s service member is deployed, they must quickly adjust to life of a single parent. The stress of caring for their family on their own, all while worrying about their loved one deployed to the front lines, can take its toll not just emotionally, but also in the daily ins and outs of simply getting dinner on the table.
A great way to support your local military community is to help provide meals for military families. Your local USO center may already have scheduled dinners in place for this – if they don’t, you can organize your own. Rally your neighbors and reach out to the military families in your community to provide them with much-needed meals, groceries, or even gift cards to local grocery stores. These simple acts of kindness can make a big difference in a military family’s hectic day – and can drastically improve morale.
4. Donate to the USO
As the saying goes, “we go where they go.” With USO centers located on bases throughout the world, including regions of conflict, our organization is uniquely positioned to support service members on the front lines. Generous donors like you make it possible.
When service members are deployed to new and unfamiliar places, the USO serves as a home away from home for troops, where they can connect with loved ones and have a moment of relief from their daily duties. Regardless of where they are stationed or deployed, the USO is committed to keeping our military’s morale high and to make sure they never feel forgotten.
Aside from a traditional donation, if you’d like to send deployed service members a care package or provide them with a home-cooked meal, a phone call home or free WiFi to send an email to loved ones, consider choosing a gift to donate through USO Wishbook. These programs and services truly make a difference in the daily lives of our troops, and we would not be able to support them in times of need without your help.
5. Voice your solidarity
Our service members and their families make immense sacrifices every day for our freedoms, all around the world. With heightened tensions in regions such as the Middle East, those sacrifices are all the more apparent. However, it is all too easy to carry on with our daily lives and forget about the incredible dangers they face every day, and the military spouses and families that must adjust in the wake of deployments.
You can support the troops by remaining a vocal supporter of our service members and our nation’s military community. As the world seemingly continues on without them, the lives of these military spouses, military children, and our men and women in uniform have been irrevocably changed.
You can ensure that their sacrifices are acknowledged by reaching out personally, giving your time, making donations, or just simply being there for the members of your local military community. In times of conflict, these actions can make all the difference.
-This story first appeared on USO.org in 2020. It has been updated in 2021.
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