By Danielle DeSimone
After watching our nation’s military step up to serve on the front lines of crises around the world – from the hospital rooms of COVID-19 to our military’s support of NATO allies in Eastern Europe – you may be asking yourself: how can I support the troops? How can we, as Americans, help deployed soldiers and give back to service members and their families, who sacrifice so much for us?
Luckily, the USO is here to help. Here are five ways you, as a proud American , can help deployed soldiers.
1. Say Thank You
The simplest way to support our troops is to thank them for their service.
According to the Blue Star Families 2021 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, 81% of active duty service members feel that their local civilian communities don’t understand the sacrifices made by local military communities. This can lead many military members to feel isolated, affecting overall morale and operational readiness.
Something as easy as thanking a service member for their service or acknowledging the immense challenges of life as a military spouse can have a real, positive impact on your local military community. By bridging that divide between civilians and the military, you can show military members that the work they do on behalf of this country is valued and appreciated.
2. Send a Care Package
Sending care packages to troops is a tangible way to let service members know that their friends, family and the American people are thinking of them, even from thousands of miles away. However, the process of sending military care packages to deployed service members can be a complicated one.
One way you can send a care package to deployed soldiers is by making a monetary donation to the USO to support the organization’s operations, which include sending USO Care Packages. Another way to do so is through USO Wishbook, where you can select a symbolic gift – such as a USO Care Package – from a catalog to be sent to service members. In 2021, the USO delivered more than 200,000 of these care packages to troops all around the world.
3. Support Military Spouses During Deployments
Deployments are challenging for both deployed service members and for their military spouses. Aside from being separated from their loved ones, military spouses must also shoulder the responsibilities of the household alone. For military families with children, this can be even more difficult, as military spouses must suddenly serve as a solo parent for months at a time.
A great way to support the troops during deployment is to help military spouses and families back home. Reach out to a military spouse whose service member is deployed and offer to cook their family dinner, or to pick up groceries. You can even simply reach out to see how they are doing – sometimes even the smallest of gestures can make all the difference.
4. Volunteer with the Troops
There are many organizations that you can volunteer with to support the troops. However, volunteering with the USO means that you will see the impact of your support of the military community firsthand.
Many USO locations need volunteers who can facilitate USO programs and events in support of service members and military families. It can be challenging work, but it is rewarding to be able to connect with the military community and help ensure they have the resources they need to carry out their missions.
5. Donate to the USO
With USO centers on bases throughout the world, including regions of conflict, our organization is uniquely positioned to support service members on the front lines.
When you donate to the USO, you are making that support possible. To keep morale high during deployment, the USO provides deployed troops with things as simple as a home-cooked meal, a free phone call home or just a comfortable chair to relax in for a few minutes. Essentially, the USO serves as a home away from home for deployed soldiers.
This support can make all the difference in the lives of our nation’s service members – and it is thanks to patriotic Americans like you, who believe in supporting our men and women in uniform, for making it possible.
-This story was originally published in 2020. It has been updated in 2022.
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