By Danielle DeSimone
How do you thank someone who is willing to risk their life for yours? Saying “thank you” to service members in your local community can be challenging, as the sacrifices they make are so great, and sometimes simply saying “thank you” might not feel like enough.
Here are five ways to say “thank you” to service members that can help make a tangible difference in their lives.
1. Actually Say “Thank You”
The easiest way to express gratitude to a service member is to simply say the words “thank you for your service.” However, while thanking them, you can make your words far more impactful by explaining what your connection is to the military – are you a veteran? Is a family member or close friend currently serving in the military? Why is their service meaningful to you?
Showing that you have some understanding of the immense sacrifices that military members make every day can let that service member know that you care and appreciate the work they do to keep our nation safe.
2. Offer Your Skills or Services
You can support service members and military spouses by offering up your skills, expertise or services in support of their career search beyond the military. For service members leaving service, the process of finding a civilian job can be challenging. Their military spouses, meanwhile, face obstacles in maintaining a career throughout their service member’s entire career, due to constant moves and deployments.
You can thank these service members by 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 the tools they need 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 for service members’ lives after the military, you are thanking them for the work and dangers they faced for the past several years of their military career, as well as building an inclusive community that bridges the civilian-military divide.
3. Send a Care Package
A tangible way of saying thank you to service members is to send care packages to troops deployed or stationed all around the world. Sending these boxes filled with treats and reminders of home let military 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 care packages. Another way to do so is through USO Wishbook, where you can select a symbolic gift – such as a care package – from a catalog to be sent to service members. In 2019, the USO delivered more than 170,000 of these care packages to troops all around the world, showing our appreciation for their service.
4. Volunteer with Service Members
A great way to say thank you to service members is to volunteer for a military support organization. While there are many organizations that you can volunteer with to support the troops, volunteering with an organization such as the USO means that you can put your gratitude into action by supporting active-duty service members in a hands-on way.
Many USO locations across the country need volunteers who can facilitate USO programs and events – virtually or safely in person – in support of service members and military families. Volunteering with the USO can be challenging work, but it is rewarding to connect directly with the military community and thank them for their sacrifices by providing the support they need to carry out their missions.
5. Donate to the USO
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. Our programs – both virtual and in-person – keep deployed troops connected to their loved ones back home, provide resources for service members and their families and boost the morale of the entire military community through entertainment and other supportive events.
Our support of active-duty service members and their families is America’s greatest expression of gratitude. By supporting the USO and making a charitable donation, you are joining our efforts and helping make our mission possible. By donating to the USO, you are saying thank you to service members in a tangible way that acknowledges the sacrifices they make and helps ease the challenges of their service.
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