Forming Philanthropists :: Honoring Our Troops {Series}

This post is part of our Forming Philanthropists Series. Read more posts from this series…

As parents, we all make sacrifices. They’re not easy, and sometimes we make them begrudgingly – but we do it because someone is depending on that sacrifice.  Now think of that on a larger scale, and you have our military and their families. They make sacrifices every day for our nation and its citizens, and they do it so well that many of us go about our daily lives without even thinking about them. This post hopes to help you change that! Figuring out how and where to start is the hardest part – let me show you what it looks like in our family:

{Disclaimer: we are not a military family, just very thankful for those that serve.}

patriotic pic

Gain Awareness: Ask around. Ask at church, at your kids’ school, ask your neighbors; find out who in your circle of reach serves (or has a parent serving) in the military. Chances are there will be a lot more people than you think! In school and church settings, it is important to know when a parent is deployed, away on guard duty, or has recently returned home from a tour. All of these situations effect the dynamics of a family unit. Make yourself aware of who may need your help.

Give Recognition: Now that you know who to thank for serving our country, THANK THEM! All of them. Thank those actively serving, and thank their spouse who is holding down the fort at home. Thank the kids who sacrifice time with their military parents so that we can enjoy our freedom. In 2011, I mustered up the courage to walk up to a man in army greens at the airport on our way to Disney World. I shook his hand and said thank you, while holding the hand of my (then) 7-year-old son. He thanked me for my kind words, and said he needed to hear that because he had just left a 3-day-old baby at home with his wife.  I can’t even imagine the pain of that departure. It sounds easy, but how many of us actually THANK THEM for their sacrifice? It only takes a moment, and you never know what kind of an impact it will make.

Reach Out: Make a meal for that school family who has a mother overseas. Mow the grass for a church family whose dad is away at a two-week training for guard duty. Clean their house, transport a child to soccer practice, buy a car load of groceries, or have household items delivered to their door by Amazon. Offer to watch kiddos so they can have a night off! No one enjoys asking for help, even when they need it. When you get a great idea, just make it happen. I think in the busy-ness of our lives, we forget that an entire human being is missing from their lives, whether it be for a weekend, a few weeks, or several months. Lighten their load. Utilize sites like Take Them a Meal & Sign Up Genius to coordinate your support system and schedule things like meals, household chores and carpooling.

Honor Our Veterans: I took my 5 kiddos to the local VA hospital a few months ago. Unfortunately, we had a small meltdown as soon as we got into the building and had to leave – but not before my oldest two could see meet some of the men and women there and set out our handmade “thank you cards”. On the way home, they asked questions about injuries and illnesses, and they now understood who we had made all those cards for and why. I encourage you to call the VA, and ask about visiting. Make the drive, take thank you cards, and spend some time listening to their incredible stories. Occasionally, there activities and crafts you can do with the patients as well!

Keep in mind, “veterans” doesn’t always mean “retired”. There are men and women serving here and overseas every day – from the age of 18 and up! I have friends my own age that have deployed or fought in a war. There are service men and women in their 20s and 30s who have a hard time sleeping at night – who have had friends taken on the battlefield or who have taken their own lives because they couldn’t escape what they lived through. Being willing to die for the man next to you creates a bond between soldiers that I don’t think a lot of us can grasp. Keep our veterans in mind, too.  Talk to them, check on them, and offer to help them.

honor flight letters 2Participate in Honor Flight

The honor flight is an organization that flies WWII, Korean, and Vietnam veterans to DC to visit the war memorial built in their honor. During this trip, there is a special assignment called “Project Mail Call” where the veteran’s name is called during the final night banquet, and he receives the letters from home.  The next time your kiddos are asking you for something to do, send in some cards! You do not need to know someone on the honor flight, you can send them to the general population and they can distribute them accordingly (my littlest kids just colored flag pictures I printed from the internet). Suggested items for letters include “how their service to our country is valued, how much you appreciate the sacrifices they made 40+ years ago, or how happy you are to know they will get to see their Memorials.”  Send Kansas cards to:

Kansas Honor Flight
2016 Belmont Place
Garden City, KS  67846

honor flight welcome

Honor Fallen Heroes: I had the privilege of knowing a local fallen hero, Captain Chris Norgren. Witnessing the ultimate sacrifice he made, laying one’s life down for another, opened my eyes in completely new way. Was I a proud American before? YES! Did my children know that they live a great country with freedoms and liberties that others can only dream about? YES! But did I stop and think daily about all those that lay down their lives for us? No. We stand in line to welcome our Shockers home after a victory, but do we stand in line along the roads when a soldier is laid to rest? Do we send a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day card to the grieving parents who have lost their child and will no longer receive those sentiments we sometimes take for granted? Thank these families for raising a hero.

What are some things your families does to thank and honor our military service men & women?

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