As many of you who read the Active Rain blogs know, I am a US Army Veteran. I also try to avoid blogging about political topics, however, a recent post I read got me thinking. I thought about what it was like for me to serve during Desert Shield & Desert Storm. I was very far from home, and knew that I was willing to die for my country. Fortunately (and obviously) it never came to that.
No matter what your political views are, I hope that you can agree that the individuals serving in our armed forces consittute one of our greatest national treasures. Far from home and often without contact with family for months on end, these courageous young men and women deserve our support. Without our all-volunteer force, the likelyhood that you would have a family member serving in Iraq would be much higher. If for no other reason, at least respect them for doing what they are doing so you dont have to.
I am not asking you to put a flag in your yard, or tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree or even to put a "Support Our Troops" bumper sticker on your car. I ask only that you take a moment or two as you read this blog to consider in what way you could show your respect for the volunteers that serve in uniform. Check out this list of links to various projects, operations, and organizations that you could participate in, help out with, or donate to. Each one provides some service to our servicemen or their families.
One way you could support the troops is to help spread the information in this blog to others. Send them a link to this blog, in the hopes that they may find a support program right for them.
These links were compiled from http://www.stripes.com/ -- Stars and Stripes, the daily newspaper for the Armed Forces.
The first three projects seem especially well suited for Real Estate Professionals. You can contribute to a good cause, and expand your business oportunities at the same time.
Homes for our Troops - Building specially-adapted homes for severely disabled soldiers and their families. (Realtors could help a family find housing suitable to their needs, and Mortgage Brokers could help find the financing for the home modifications.)
Fisher House - "Comfort homes" on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers, where family members can be close to a loved one during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury. (Stagers could volunteer to decorate these "comfort homes." Some families may need to relocate to be near a VA medical center. Realtors should be aware of this program that may serve as a temporary arrangement while looking for a home in the area.)
Operation Baby Blanket - Companionship and support for servicemembers' pregnant wives. (Many of these families will need assistance in purchasing a home upon discharge from service.)
Some programs want only a donation, while others ask for a personal time comitment. There are many many programs out there, as you can see from this partial list:
Operation Hero Miles - An effort by several airlines allowing the public to donate frequent flyer miles to troops coming home for emergencies or R&R.
Homefront Headquarters - Get involved through easy, inexpensive projects
Fallen Heroes Memorial - An online memorial for the fallen servicemembers of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, including photos and visitor-submitted messages.
Fallen Heroes Last Wish Foundation - Provides funds to help support and educate the children of American servicemembers lost during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Operation Dear Abby - Noted advice columnist's site for sending "any servicemember" messages.
AnySoldier.com - Want to send your support to any soldier in harm's way, but have no idea of what to send, who to send it to, or how to send it?
USA Freedom Corps - Make a difference by volunteering. Web site gives you many options.
USO Care packages - Sponsor a care package that includes requested items such as pre-paid worldwide phone cards, sunscreen, travel-size toiletries, and personal messages.
Armed Services Blood Program - Supplies blood and blood products for the 1.3 million servicemembers and their families around the globe. Here's information on how you can help.
Wounded warrior hospital fund - To provide quality-of-life items for wounded servicemembers at Landstuhl.
Voices from Home - Allows serving military members and their families and friends to send and receive immediate voice e-mail messages.
Military Moms - Message boards, chat rooms, ways to donate items, information on the military, and much more; a project organized by mothers of servicemembers.
Operation Air Conditioner - A military mother's effort to send needed air conditioners (and in the winter, heaters) and other items to troops in the Middle East.
The Armed Forces Foundation - Promoting the morale, welfare and quality of life of the U.S. armed forces community.
VFW's Operation Uplink - Purchases phone cards and distributes them to servicemembers.
Operation Package - Send a gift to the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment "Manchus" of the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division. (I served in the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Division)
Operation Cards for Troops - Hand-written cards sent to servicemembers.
Books for Soldiers - Ships books, DVDs and supplies to deployed soldiers and soldiers in VA hospitals, via a large volunteer network.
Adopt a Soldier - Support the wounded, injured, and ill troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Adopt a Platoon - Several programs, including Operation Holiday Eagle (to send boxes of candy canes to forces deployed to Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, the Balkans and Korea).
Kids for our Troops - Kids get involved in helping wounded servicemembers
Camp.Doha.org - Information on the Middle East for troops and their families and friends.
Blue Star Mothers of America - Group founded by servicemembers' moms during WWII. Site has links to several support programs.
Soldiers' Angels - "Adopt" a servicemember or send along a gift. A wide-ranging foundation started by a soldier's mom.
Operation Give - Coordinates the collection and distribution of toys and other items for Iraqi children
Operation Shoe Box - Their goal: "A package for every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine" deployed overseas.
Operation Call Home - Goal: A satellite phone for every platoon in Iraq
Apppreciate our troops.org - If you buy a mug, a servicemember will get one, too. Also, post photos.
Freedom packages - Items for troops in overseas combat zones.
Kitchen Table Gang - Encourages sending care packages, phone cards and items like magazine or newspaper subscriptions to hospitalized veterans and troops.
Operation Military Care - The U.S. War Dogs Association's project devoted to supporting the hundreds of American war dogs and their handlers in Iraq.
Gifts From the Homefront - AAFES' project turns donations into gift certificates the troops can use to shop at the 24 exchanges operating in the Persian Gulf area or elsewhere around the world.
Gift of Groceries - DECA's program provides gift certificates that can be used at commissaries. Family members can also use them at bases back home.
Operation SAND Box - Started by two 13-year-olds, "adopt a soldier" program gets supplies and messages to the troops.
Operation Soldier Support - Puts you in contact with participating servicemembers, so you can send messages and gifts.
Operation Gold Bridge - Seeking school supplies for Iraqi schools. (Story has contact information.)
EmailOurMilitary.com - Send messages to the troops.
Marine Moms - Support page for friends and relatives of Marines.
Militarymail.org - Send "fan mail" to servicemembers.
Treats for troops - Servicemembers sign up for goodies from home.
Beanie Baby Ambassador - Helping break the ice with kids around the world.
Give2TheTroops.org - Letters and care packages prepared and shipped by volunteers.
Treat Any Soldier - Care packages for soldiers serving in harm's way.
Operation Show Time - "Sky Soldiers" of the 173rd Airborne send DVDs to the troops.
Operation Undergarment - A clothing drive to "help cover our troops."
Angels 'n Camouflage - Making sure veterans and deployed troops "will never have to spend another day alone and forgotten."
Families in Support of our Troops - Helping servicemembers and their families, and veterans, too.
Supplies for Soldiers - Send care packages to servicemembers from Louisiana.
Help support our troops! - Resource for those wanting to help the troops.
4thetroops.net - Thanking the troops for "keeping the spirit and promise of America."
Operation Iraqi Children - Following soldiers' lead, helping Iraqi kids.
Operation Gratitude - Send care packages to service members overseas.
Homefront Hugs USA - Supporting troops, veterans and families.
Operation Support - Includes informational links for servicemembers and families.
Operation Care and Comfort - Santa Clara Valley program to send care packages to adopted military units.
Quilts for Soldiers - Quilting comfort for wounded servicemembers.
Operation Wounded Soldiers - Helping deployed soldiers, as well as wounded soldiers and their families.
Salute America's Heroes - For wounded servicemembers and their families.
Thanks for your Service.org - Post a message on the wall of thanks, send e-cards.
Hugs4Smiles USA - "Supporting heroes, one at a time."
Beanies for Baghdad - Beanies, toys, school supplies, etc., for kids in Iraq.
GI-Bracelet.org - Proceeds from bracelets go to charity of buyer's choice.
Hero Beanies - Proceeds from sales of embroidered hats go to families of fallen servicemembers.
Silent Ranks - Message board for military wives.
American Legion Auxiliary Unit 270 - Several programs to help the troops and their families.
Helping Heroes - "Adopt" a deployed servicemember
America Supporting Americans - Cities adopt military units
SemperComm - Helping those at remote overseas locations
SI Yellow Ribbon - From southern Illinois, sending packages, cards and letters to the troops.
Operation Minnesota Nice - Adopting soldiers abroad to send monthly care packages.
Carolina Troop Supporters - A student-led organization devoted to supporting the U.S. armed forces