Helping Military Families: 7 Helpful Tips

From donating hotel points to giving a movie gift card, here are 7 ways you can help out.

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Posted in , Jan 13, 2015

Guideposts: Edie hugs her son Jimmy after his first deployment.

Loving someone in the military is tough. Until our son enlisted in the Marine Corps, I had no idea how tough, and I was just a mom. The spouses and children of our service men and women have an even more difficult journey.

As a faith community, we do a pretty good job of supporting one another during difficult times. We bring food to the family who’s lost a loved one. We rally around those facing serious illness. We even know how to reach out when there’s a new baby.

Today, I’d like to suggest we give the same sort of ongoing support to the military families in our midst. It’s time we spoil those military families.

As a group, they’re sometimes hard to reach out to. They all seem to have a stiff-upper-lip mentality that hides the struggles they face. So I’m going to share some things that anyone can do to help.

 

1.  Give them a gift card for a favorite restaurant.
Living under the kind of stress that military families face is exhausting. Some days that means cooking is an overwhelming prospect. On those days, the gift of a meal out, is priceless.

2.  Drop by a labeled and wrapped freezer meal.
Along the same lines as #1, having a meal ready to pull out of the freezer is a huge gift.

3.  Give them a movie theater gift card.
Military families–like a lot of families–struggle to make ends meet financially. That often means there’s nothing left for extras, like a night out at the movies.

4.  Offer a nightor even a weekendaway.
If you have access to a cabin in the woods or a condo at the beach, offer them a much-needed break. If you don’t own something like that, come together with several others and pick up the tab so they can get away.

5.  Help with transportation and events.
Even if the serviceman or woman isn’t on deployment, they still may work odd hours or have weeks when they’re gone for training. This can leave the other parent coping with multiple kids, going multiple directions.

It’s hard for a parent to have two kids scheduled for two events at the same time. Offer to step in for transportation and even a little surrogate parenting.

6.  Put together a family night basket.
Depending on the age of the kids, this could include games, puzzles or a DVD. Don’t forget to include special snacks like candy or popcorn. Help them take advantage of time together by making it a special event.

7.  Offer your hotel points for a free stay.
Especially for moms and dads of active duty personnel, this can be a huge expense. The leaving or returning from a deployment happens from a distant military base, and hotels are expensive. The cost can keep a family from saying hello or goodbye. If you have frequent stay points, offer a couple of nights at a hotel close to base.

These are just a ways we can come together as a community and support the military families in our midst. I’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments section below.

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