10 Ways To Show Your Support This #MilitaryAppreciationMonth
Last Updated: 03 May 2021
Veterans Support & Mental Health Careecho $minutes. " Minute Read"?>
Our military members, families, and Veterans astound us with all the ways they sacrifice and serve to protect our country. Each May (also known as Military Appreciation Month!), we try to show a little extra gratitude. But “Thank You For Your Service” can actually make some service members uncomfortable…and besides, sometimes we want to do more, give more, and say “thank you” in a more personal way. So, we’ve come up with ten meaningful ways to show how much we appreciate our service members (past and present!) by helping to make military life a little bit easier.
Offer to pet sit for a service member or military family.
Most service members can attest to the stress of wanting to visit family they haven’t seen in months (or years) but having just moved to a new duty station and being without a friend to watch their pet while they’re away. While boarding a pet is sometimes an option, it can also be expensive. Help them know that their pet is safe and cared for while they’re away!
Help throw a baby shower for an expecting service member or military spouse.
Did you know organizations like Operation Shower coordinate in-person and virtual baby showers for military mothers or moms-to-be whose partners are deployed during their pregnancy? These organizations usually welcome and rely on volunteers and donations to support these mothers who may be living thousands of miles away from their friends and family and navigating pregnancy alone.
Drop off dinner when a spouse is away.
Even the most independent military spouses experience days during deployment when they could use someone else looking out for them. Someone to take just one chore off their plate. Like meal prepping! Next time you’re whipping something up, make an extra serving or two and walk it over to your neighbor’s house. Whether they’re cooking for themself or their children, any military spouse will appreciate having a night off from the kitchen during deployment.
Offer to babysit the kids!
Just because we admire military families for “handling it all” doesn’t mean they should have to. If you know a military spouse whose service member is away, offer to take their kids for an outing or a movie night. Even if it’s just for an hour, that may be the first time in months that your friend has had any kind of alone time. And we all need a little alone time to relax and recharge now and again.
Because they’re often stationed thousands of miles (or even oceans) away from home, traveling to visit loved ones can be extremely stressful and costly for your friends and family in uniform. You can help alleviate the stress of travel by going to see them! Whether you road trip to their duty station or meet them at their childhood home, going to them instead of asking them to come to you is a really personal demonstration of your love and appreciation.
Volunteer to help Veterans transition to civilian life.
One of the hardest parts of military life might be transitioning out of it. After four to twenty years of the same job and routine, adjusting to family life, looking for a job, and navigating the language barrier between military experience and civilian employers can be challenging. As a civilian, you can be an invaluable resource to Veterans (and military spouses!) adjusting to non-military life. Consider volunteering with an organization that helps Veterans transition to life after the uniform. You probably have more to offer than you realize just from your lived experience!
Volunteer or visit with Veterans at a Senior living facility.
Many assisted living facilities or nursing homes welcome visitors from the community. Giving a few hours of your time to chat, play a board game, take a Veteran for a walk, or organize a group activity is a meaningful way to make a personal connection with a hero and show your gratitude. You’ll probably hear some pretty good stories, too!
Help Veterans find their dream job.
Hiring Our Heroes is an Endeavors partner organization that works to bridge the gap between the military/civilian workforce by calling on state and local chambers and partners from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to hire Veterans and military spouses. Approximately a quarter of a million service members transition to civilian life each year, and they come equipped with incredible work experience and highly desirable employee characteristics. But the transition can be hard after years of having one career. Volunteering with HOH to offer mock interviews, headshot photography, career counseling, or do outreach and fundraising is a great way to support our Veterans.
De-stigmatize seeking help for mental health
According to a 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study, Nearly 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition. In fact, during the pandemic, Veteran and active-duty suicide prevention has been a top priority for the Department of Veteran Affairs due to the increased stress and prolonged isolation. As a 2020 article for the Military Times reports, “The stigma around mental health in the military creates an environment where service members experience anxiety due to a fear that seeking help could end their career.” You can make a difference and help our service members experiencing mental health issues and/or suicidal behaviors. Check out this list of “9 Ways to Fight Mental Health Stigma” from our partners at the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
(Learn more about how Endeavors is working to prevent Veteran suicide and Veteran homelessness and the mental health services offered to Veterans, active duty service members, and military families via our Cohen Clinics.)
And, last but not least…
Buy them a cup of coffee.
This tried-and-true show of appreciation never gets old. Buying a Veteran or a service member in uniform a cup of joe is a lovely way to brighten their day and make them feel seen.
Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.