6 Things You Can Do for Military Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families
Ways to thank those who sacrifice so much.
article image

Whether we realize it or not, we have a whole lot to thank military service members, veterans, and their families for. They’re among our friends, families, and neighbors, and we can show our gratitude for their sacrifices in a lot of different ways.

If you’re looking to honor, empower, and show appreciation for the folks who help keep our country safe, these ideas are a good place to start!

1. Make a card of gratitude.

Beyond everything they do to keep us safe, military service members make the additional sacrifice of spending long periods of time away from family and friends. That’s why writing cards of appreciation for military service members, veterans, and their families is so crucial.

"Each card or letter I opened overwhelmed me with a sense of appreciation,” says Ethan, 24, a deployed service member. “It's crazy how appreciative a simple letter can make you when you are 6,000 miles away."

Send your own cards or letters through organizations like Operation Gratitude.

2. Foster a military pet.

Between training, deployment, and reassignments, service members can move around quite a bit. Unfortunately, sometimes that means going places where their pups can’t follow. Foster a military pet to give these furry friends a safe place to stay (and their hardworking owners some peace of mind).

PACT has a military foster program specifically for matching up service members with temporary homes for their pets. Apply online to foster a pet!

3. Get creative with fundraising and donating.

The truth is, one of the most impactful things you can do for military service members, veterans, and their families is to donate to the organizations that support them. But what do you do when you’re a teenager without a disposable income? Get creative with fundraising!

Lots of organizations have unique ways of donating to and fundraising for them. Check out some of them below:

4. Volunteer your time.

It costs zero dollars to spend a day volunteering in your community. Veterans programs in particular are always looking to connect young people with service. Reach out to a veterans home or hospital near you, and ask about how you can help (and be sure to follow any public health guidelines from the CDC and your local health department).

5. Make space for veterans to share their stories.

Sharing experiences from service can be an act of healing for veterans and a path to understanding for those listening. It’s important to make space for these kind of conversations to happen (while also being mindful that not everyone wants to share their story).

The Veterans History Project has resources for interviewing veterans, with the potential to be included in a collection by the Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

6. Reach out and lend a hand.

Military service members, veterans, and their families sacrifice so much for all of us, so it’s only fair that we try to make their lives a little easier when we can. Whether it’s offering to babysit for a military spouse, or mowing the lawn of an older veteran, there are SO many ways you can give thanks with action.

If you know a military family, reach out! It helps to be specific when offering your time (rather than a general, “Let me know if you need help!”). Here are a few ideas:

  • Walk their dog
  • Mow their lawn
  • Pick up groceries or medication for them
  • Babysit for them
  • Bring them a home-cooked meal

Make a difference in your community and add your vision to the future of our democracy