Many veterans return from duty to lead full lives with successful careers. But it’s important to keep in mind, especially during the holidays, that some military and veterans do not have a strong support system. Many of our brothers and sisters struggle with Post Traumatic Stress, are alone for the holidays or, sadly, have struggled to find employment and don’t even have a home this winter.
The true meaning of the holidays is to hold our families near and do what we can to give back to those who have sacrificed to defend our country, especially if they have fallen on hard times.
Here are 5 things that you can do right now to lend a helping hand to military and veterans in need.
Volunteer Your Time
Are you looking for a meaningful family activity to give back this holiday? Consider giving your time to a local or national organization that helps military and veterans, like the ones listed in our Trusted Military Service Organizations and Nonprofits Directory.
You can provide companionship for elderly veterans, sponsor Christmas presents for a military family, help serve a meal at a shelter for homeless vets, or help assemble holiday care packages for our service members overseas. This can be a great way to give back, and you may even form life-long relationships with other members of the Greater Military Community while volunteering!
Donate to Local and National Support Organizations
If you don’t have the time to volunteer your time this busy holiday season, you can still make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate by giving supplies and monetary donations to trusted charities or gifting programs.
Non-profits that send care packages overseas, like Operation Gratitude and Operation Care & Comfort, are always in need of donated items - everything from entertainment like jigsaw puzzles and Sudoku books to essentials like hand sanitizer and gum.
You can also give much-needed funds to gifting programs like the Veterans Advantage Give Gift of Vetrewards Campaign. For every VetRewards Membership sponsored, we donate a free VetRewards Membership to a wounded warrior. Learn more by visiting our Give the Gift of VetRewards page.
Send a Care Package or Gift Basket
One easy way to show your gratitude to active military and our veterans is to donate items or funds to nonprofits that organize care packages for deployed troops. Veterans Advantage has long-standing relationships with Operation Gratitude and Operation Care and Comfort, so we recommend going through either of these reputable charities that send care packages to our troops.
You can also send your own gift basket to a vet in your neighborhood or to deployed military service members you know personally - whether they’re friends, family, members of your church, or a pen pal. Our 30% OFF Harry & David VetRewards Exclusive is a great asset for doing this on a budget, and they’ll ship your gift to 195 countries throughout the world. Make sure to include a personal message thanking them for their service and wishing them a happy holiday.
Board a Military Pet
Do you love animals and want to help our troops? Active duty military are often forced to leave their beloved furry friends behind when they’re deployed. While some are lucky enough to be able to leave their pets with friends or family members while they are gone, many without this support have to face the reality of giving up their pets for adoption.
To prevent the separation of pets from their otherwise caring military owners, nonprofits like Dogs on Deployment or PACT Military Foster Program match military pets with foster parents who will care for them until their owner returns. Reach out to become a foster home for military pets and give our service members peace of mind this holiday season!
Gift Your Airline Loyalty Points
Do you have unused airline loyalty points that you’d like to donate to a good cause this holiday season? Donate your unused miles to the Fisher House Hero Miles program, which allows military families to travel to medical facilities to receive proper medical care.
Hero Miles partners United Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Delta Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and American Airlines. Each airline has a minimum number of miles necessary to donate, but if you don’t have enough miles you can still give a monetary donation to further their efforts this holiday season.
The holidays should be a time of cheer and celebration, especially for those who have selflessly served our country. What can you do to make this season brighter for those who are deployed overseas, military families who are having a hard time pulling together the funds to show their kids a great holiday, or homeless vets who simply need a warm meal?
Do you know of any other meaningful ways of giving back that we didn’t mention? If so, be sure to let us know!