New Year’s Resolutions are complicated. I know I’m not alone in making them and not following through… so this year I decided to make a different kind of New Year’s resolution… something that isn’t about me, but instead something which benefits our military community. Here’s an easy way for civilians and veterans alike to make a difference this year and impact your family and the military community in a positive way.
Visit your local VA (Veterans Hospital) and make a new friend. Ask if there are people there without family visiting and see if you can step in to offer compassion and a lending ear. There are some amazing veterans out there who just want someone to talk to.
Delve into your Chaplain’s Toolbox. In the Marine Corps, our Chaplains have several family workshops sponsored by CREDO which “provides participants the opportunity to develop new perspectives about relationships with family and friends, the military and spiritual traditions”. There are several free retreats to participate in including:
- Marriage Enrichment Retreat
- Personal Growth Retreat
- Family Retreat
- Spiritual Growth Retreat
- Warrior Resiliency Retreats
- Warrior Reintegration Retreats
If you’re not in the Marine Corps, connect with your local branch Community Service programs and ask if they have any retreats. If you’re not in the military, find a local marriage or personal enrichment retreat.
Support our Wounded Warriors. There are a lot of great organizations helping our veterans who have forever been changed by war. Start volunteering in a local organization or set up an auto-renewing donation.
- My favorite two are the Semper Fi Fund (for Marines) and America’s Fund (all other services), where 94 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to support them. They have one of the lowest administrative costs of any program I’ve seen.
- Homes for our Troops
- Be a Hero/Hire a Hero
- Christmas in Action
- Operation Military Embrace
- Yellow Ribbon Fund
Before you donate to any organization, always visit Charity Navigator to see where the non-profit’s money goes. You may be surprised at some of the mismanagement of funds out there.
If you’re a military spouse, check out Military Spouse Employment Partnership, and other organizations committed to helping our veteran and military spouse community. It’s a targeted recruitment and employment solution for spouses and companies that:
- Partners Fortune 500 Plus companies with ALL Military Services
- Provides human resource (HR) managers with recruitment solutions – military spouses
- Prepares military spouses to become competitive, “job ready” applicants
- Connects military spouses with employers seeking the essential 21st century workforce skills and attributes they possess
Take LINKS. This is acronym stands for Lifestyle, Insights, Networking, Knowledge, Skills. If you’re not in the Marines, check with your branch Community Services to discover their military family programs. LINKS is a great way to discover the ins and outs of your duty station, learn more about your military branch and discover hidden gems which may end up saving you money or allow you to sign up for a free program that you didn’t know about. Check out some of what LINKS covers:
Session Topics include:
- Introduction to the Marine Corps organization, mission, culture, history, and traditions
- Information regarding the many services, benefits, and privileges available to active duty personnel and family members
- An overview of Marine Corps pay, allowances, and tips on effective money management
- Strategies and services for a successful Marine Corps duty station change
- Tools, tips and strategies to help prepare for and thrive during separations due to deployments and training exercises
- Volunteer opportunities and benefits of becoming involved in each new community
- Concepts and resources for maintaining positive personal relationships
- Details on Marine Corps career paths and the benefits, options, and incentives for staying in the Marine Corps
Walk/Run a 5K or participate in a local golf tournament which raises funds for military support programs. It’s a great way to stay active for your health and also raising funds for a great organization.
Donate any unused miles to Luke’s Wings whose mission is to “bring together veterans and wounded warriors that otherwise would not be able to be with their friends and family in their time of need.”
“Luke’s Wings is an organization dedicated to the support of service members who have been wounded in battle. Recognizing the immediate need for families to be with their loved ones at such a difficult time, Luke’s Wings provides families with the means to visit during the service member’s hospitalization and rehabilitation. By purchasing travel agency services and travel tickets for loved ones, Luke’s Wings provides an immediate and invaluable service to the families of our men and women at arms while also helping to encourage and motivate the service member’s recovery.”
Support Operation Homefront’s Back to School Brigade where you can start shopping at Dollar Stores to donate supplies for military school children. Many churches also gather supplies and donate them to military kids. This is a really easy program to start in your own community if you don’t already have one!
Are you a crafter or sewer? Consider volunteering for the ASYMSA Operation Kid Comfort and help create a beautiful quilt for a child whose military member is deployed.
Maybe crafts aren’t your style. Then check out Dogs on Deployment and see if you can help take care of a servicemember’s pet while they are deployed. Unfortunately, this program has become vital because many servicemembers return home to learn that their pet has been given away.
Helping a veteran while they’re deployed with their pet is one of the noblest things someone can do for their country at home.
Start connecting with organizations to adopt a Marine for Thanksgiving or volunteer/donate food to your local Food Bank.
Ditch the holiday greeting card tradition and use that money to help a family in need instead. In our digital society, sending cards is no longer necessary, so let’s find a better way to spend that money.
Volunteer or donate to Toys for Tots which helps local children get presents under the tree. This is an amazing program where “over 97% of your donations go directly to the mission of providing toys, books, and other gifts to less fortunate children.”
I hope that participating in many of these programs brings you joy and happiness this coming year. Even if you accomplish just a few of these, know that you’re helping a military family. It doesn’t cost a dime to make a difference; just a little time.