Deployed military members leave behind family members who must try to maintain life as usual. Often, families are left to adjust to a new community without the benefit of local family and friends. Giving your time can make a world of difference.
There are nearly 200,000 military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and thousands more that are geographically separated from their families during assignments when it is not feasible for the family to accompany them.
Deployed military members leave behind spouses, children and parents who must try to maintain life as usual while their loved one is away. In addition, they are often left to settle into a new community without the support of local family and friends.
Because the military family may be new to town or on their own, it can be even more stressful for them to locate childcare, register children for school, schedule doctor appointments and maintain a home. These problems are compounded when the spouse is deployed. In many instances, it can be just as stressful when a spouse returns from deployment, especially if that person has been injured.
Military families that are settling into a new home and community have many needs that can be met by volunteers who may be able to babysit, help with errands, locate a handyman, jumpstart a car, or prepare a meal. Volunteers can also be a resource to find others in the community who can provide support.
Often the most valuable service you can provide is just being there and listening.
Skills vary—offer what you know how to do.
Primarily individuals or faith-based groups.
Military men and women and their families make tremendous sacrifices as they serve our country. Your support lets them know how much their service is appreciated. Members of the military represent the leaders of the next generation. By supporting them we are encouraging them to continue their service—eventually outside the military, in our communities.
Take a grassroots approach and follow these steps to volunteer in your community. For more structured opportunities to help military families, go to our More Resources section to find additional opportunities with organizations with a strong track record of helping military families.
Although military populations vary from community to community, there are countless ways to connect with military families in your hometown.
Check in with local veterans service organizations. Or, if you live near a military or guard base, contact the base’s Family Resource Center.
Ask neighbors, school counselors, faith-based groups, and other community/fraternal organizations like Masons, Kiwanis and Lions Club to identify a military family in your neighborhood.
Educate yourself about military culture (see attached Tip Sheet) and the different branches of service.
Introduce yourself to the military family and let them know that you are available.
Get more ideas on how to identify a family that could use some support with the attached Resources for Connecting with Military Families.
If none of your immediate neighbors are military families, try to find a common gathering place such as a library or guard base where you might offer to organize a potluck dinner during which you can introduce yourself and others who are willing to help.
Follow through. Continue to reach out and offer specific help. For example, you might offer to babysit once a week or ask if you can pick up something at the grocery store while you are out shopping.
Keep in mind that simply talking, communicating, and listening can have a valuable impact on the emotional well being of the family member. Everyone wants and needs to be heard.
Encourage others to reach out to military families. You can download and post this .PDF flyer at work or in your community.
TELL US WHAT YOU DID!
We want to hear stories (www.CreateTheGood/stories ) about how you helped give back to your community. You just might inspire others to do the same.
KEEP UP THE GOOD!
Remember, whether you’ve got five minutes, five hours or five days, you can make a positive impact in your community. And if you have more time, consider organizing another service activity, finding local opportunities and posting your events at www.CreateTheGood.org .
The military emphasizes strength, courage and bravery, which can make it difficult for service men and women to feel comfortable asking for help.
Although military populations vary from community to community, there are countless ways to connect with military families in your hometown. If you live near a military base, contact the base’s Family Resource Center. School counselors, churches, synagogues and religious institutions and other community/fraternal organizations like Masons, Kiwanis and Lions Club may also be able to direct you to military families. The organizations listed below will help volunteers who would like to help military families, or will help volunteers to direct military families to new organizations that can help them.
Check out these programs to see how you can best contribute your time and talent.
American Legion – www.legion.org 
With nearly 3 million members in close to 15,000 American Legion posts around the world, the American Legion’s local posts assist veterans and their family members to file benefits claims and represent veterans denied benefits to which they feel they are entitled. They also offer career services, scholarship assistance, a family support network, and more.
American Red Cross – www.redcross.org 
The nation’s premier emergency response organization aids victims of devastating natural disasters and aims to prevent and relieve suffering. They also support and comfort military members and their families; collect, process and distribute lifesaving blood and blood products, and have a deep history in helping military members and their families. Click on “volunteer” under the Giving and Getting Involved tab.
America Supports You (Department of Defense - DoD) – www.ourmilitary.mil/ 
This DoD site provides a directory of organizations specifically devoted to helping veterans.
Armed Services YMCA – www.asymca.org 
Provides support services to military service members – with particular focus on junior enlisted men and women and their families. Services include childcare, hospital assistance, spouse support services, food services, holiday meals, and more.
Army Family Readiness Groups – www.armyfrg.org 
Offers information and resources to assist soldiers and their families during deployment. The Virtual Family Readiness Group (vFRG) provides the functionality of a FRG in an online setting to offer timely unit news, up-to-date information on military and community resources, quick access to unit and FRG leadership, and more.
Blue Star Families – www.bluestarfam.org/ 
Blue Star Families aims to raise awareness among civilians of the challenges of military life. The organization was formed in December of 2008 by a group of military spouses and now includes spouses and families from all services, veterans and civilians.
Coast Guard Ombudsman – www.uscg.mil 
Serves as a link between a Coast Guard command and the families of the command. An Ombudsman can assist families to locate resources, communicate information from the command to the families, and take concerns of families back to the command.
Give an Hour – www.giveanhour.org 
This national nonprofit organization provides free mental health services to members of the military, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, their families and their communities. Currently, there are more than 4,400 licensed mental health professionals volunteering their time on the Give an Hour network.
Joining Forces – www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces/ 
Joining Forces is a national initiative to get all Americans to support troops and their families.
The United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees) – www.usjaycees.org 
This organization helps young people build the bridges of success for themselves. They sponsor the Support Our Troops program that sends care packages to the troops and promotes a license plate program that raises funds that publicly support the troops.
Make the Connection – www.MakeTheConnection.net 
This website connects Veterans and their friends and family members by providing information, resources, and solutions to issues that affect Veterans’ health and everyday lives. In addition to support, Make The Connection allows for shared experiences in the words of Veterans.
National Guard Family Programs – www.jointservicessupport.org 
Offers a staff directory for each state, as well as a list of upcoming events and trainings. The site’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for National Guard members, their families, and their communities.
National Military Family Association – www.nmfa.org 
A leading advocate for improvements in the quality of military family life. Educates military families about their rights, benefits and available services. Provides information about the issues that affect their lives and promotes and protects their interests by influencing the development and implementation of legislation and policies.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society – www.nmcrs.org 
This Society partners with the Navy and Marine Corps to provide financial, educational, and other assistance to Service members and their eligible family members and survivors, when in need. Eligible recipients receive interest-free loans for emergencies or educational purposes and needs-based scholarships. They also offer budget counseling services, thrift shops, and visiting nurse services.
Navy Ombudsman – www.cnrsw.navy.mil 
Navy Family Ombudsmen are communications links, information and referral resources, and advocates for command family members. Ombudsmen are volunteers and spouses of service members within the command and are the point of contact for all family members connected to the command.
Operation Homefront – www.operationhomefront.net 
Provides emergency assistance and morale to our troops, to the families they leave behind, and to wounded warriors when they return home. Operates a variety of programs – vehicle donation, furniture, holiday, as well as assistance services, including food, financial, moving, housing, hurricane relief and scholarship programs.
Serve.gov – www.serve.gov/vets.asp 
Serve.gov believes that all Americans have a role to play in supporting troops and their families. The site locates volunteer opportunities by zip code and also has links to resources (www.serve.gov/vets_resources.asp ) that help military families and veterans.
United States Department of Veterans Affairs – www.va.gov 
The VA’s goal is to provide excellence in patient care, veterans’ benefits, and customer satisfaction. They offer a wide variety of services, including disability compensation, health programs, housing services, and has more than 1500 facilities across the nation. Complete a volunteer form at www.volunteer.va.gov  and a local VA representative will contact you.
United States Marine Corps: Unit, Personal and Family Readiness Program – www.usmc-mccs.org/volunteer/index.cfm 
Works to provide communications and to establish community within units. Educational resources and services foster personal growth and enhance the readiness of Marine Corps families.The Marine Corps Family Team Building program includes Family Readiness Program Training; Readiness and Deployment Support Training; Lifestyle Insights, Networking, Knowledge and Skills; and LifeSkills Training.
USO – www.uso.org 
Provides morale, welfare and recreation-type services to uniformed military personnel and their families.
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) – www.vfw.org 
The VFW, with its Auxiliaries, includes 2.2 million members in approximately 8,100 posts worldwide. Their mission is to “honor the dead by helping the living” through veterans’ service, community service, national security and a strong national defense. They helped to establish the VA; created a GI bill for the 20th century, and developed the national cemetery system, and also fought to improve VA medical center services for women veterans.
Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) – www.woundedwarriorproject.org WWP’s main objectives are to raise awareness, enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women, help these service members aid and assist each other, and provide unique, direct programs and services for these service members.