If you're new in this neck of the woods, here are some suggestions to help our troops:
Be a hero.
A lot of you, and I mean A LOT, have emailed me for information about sending care packages to the troops. Some of you may not have really considered "taking care" of an unknown military person before so here's your chance to help.
Soldiers' Angels is a wonderful non-for-profit run by some of the best Americans around - military moms! There, you can adopt soldiers or whole platoons of soldiers, send care packages, emails. You name it. You can even help the wounded soldiers as they come back from overseas. And you donations are tax deductible.
Soldiers' Angels and Spirit of America are not the only organizations out there that help our military.
Look into donating money to these two charities:
The SOWF provides scholarships for the children of Special Operations Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who have lost their lives (in training or combat). A few dollars would go a long way in providing for the children of those who have died defending America.
UWSF offers scholarship grants to surviving spouses (and children), along with educational counseling, financial guidance, investment planning, and other programs.
Think about donating your unused frequent flyer miles for a soldier to visit his or her family. Check out Operation Hero Miles.
Operation Gratitude - another site where you can help send care packages to troops in Iraq.
Books For Soldiers - it's one more way to show troops that you care.
Operation AC - Commenter Retread reminds me to include this charity which sends 110v single phase air conditioners to our troops in Iraq. They also send medical supplies to the Combat Support Hospitals for both injured American Soldiers and for the staff, as well as care packages to our troops overseas.
Keystone Soldiers also takes care of soldiers by adoption, matching pen pals, or sending care packages.
And Adopt a Platoon - another source for adopting soldiers who don't have someone on the homefront.
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is a nonprofit, charitable organization that provides financial, educational, and other assistance to members of the Naval Services of the United States, and their eligible family members and survivors, when in need. To do this, counseling, loans, grants, various services, and referral to other community resources are available. There are no fees for such help. The Society, operating in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, administers nearly 250 offices ashore and afloat at Navy and Marine Corps bases around the world.
There is also AnySoldier - a great organization that provides soldier contacts where you can read through the names and select the ones you wish to support. They list what they need and want, we even have a search capability so you can easily identify what units need.
While wounded Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen are cared for, their rehabilitation causes hardships for them and their families. The Army and Navy/Marines have Relief Agencies to help with some of these challenges. Hardships come in many forms - financial, physical, and emotional. One way to assist in the recovery of these heroes is to ensure that they have family members close by to tend to them. Imagine having a son at Walter Reed for a year. Imagine what it would take to care for him and your family - travel, stay, eat, and still take care of your family, house, debts, job, etc.
Here are two projects (of many out there including Soldiers' Angels) to help our wounded from the War on Terror - one project for the Marines and one for the Army. You should consider helping each of them. Another suggestion is to put them on a calendar and donate to each of them at different times throughout the year (and they are both non-profits and donations are tax deductible). The War on Terror will continue. Our brave men and women will fight on. And they will need our help.
For the Marines - Semper Fi Injured Marine Fund was started by Karen & Rene. Former commandant Gen Al Gray and LtGen Newbold (USMC ret) are now on the Board of Directors. A very low key, no red tape, 100% volunteer group. Check out the link. There's already a few stories of those who have been helped.
For the Army - The Wounded Warrior Project (affiliated with Soldiers' Angels)- The Project seeks to assist those men and women of our armed forces who have been severely injured during the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hot spots around the world. Many of the injuries are traumatic amputations, gunshot wounds, burns and blast injuries that will retire these brave warriors from military service.
Note: You may wonder why there are two organizations - one for each service. The Wounded Warrior Project doesn't really make an affiliation with the Army but with all military. Typically, Soldiers go to Army hospitals and Marines are sent to Navy hospitals. Of course, sometimes, Marines are sent to Army hospitals (and Soldiers to Navy facilities) for special treatment or depending on location.
Whatever steps that you take to take care of our troops - no matter how large or small - will resonate beyond just one American soldier.
Someone that was referred by this site to Soldiers Angels also was responsible for donating their extra frequent flyer miles to bring a family to see their wounded soldier at Walter Reed. Just some simple actions made all the difference in the world.
So please think about supporting our troops. You can show that you care about their lives while they defend yours.