First, let me say that I have been (pleasantly) surprised by the amount of cars with the yellow ribbon magnets on them. Usually, they have the words "Support Our Troops" on them. It's a welcome sight as I recently moved from downtown Chicago (which means there's no support your troops magnets) to the suburbs (where about every other car has at least one ribbon magnet) - they've got them for POW/MIA and God Bless the USA, too.
I want to thank all of those people that spent $5 at Walgreens to buy a magnet that displays their patriotism and support for our troops. Just one thing though (and it's going to make some of you angry at me)...
How about spending $5 (or $50 or $500) really supporting the troops?
I don't mean to pick on Walgreens. I was filling up my truck with gas the other day and the guy next to me noticed my veteran license plates. And he told me about the magnets.
I have a few friends who work for Walgreens. It's a great company - one of the very best. But I haven't heard that the profits from those magnets are going to help the troops. And Walgreens is certainly not the only place where you can buy them...my point is that displaying your support and actually supporting the troops are two very important but very different actions.
So think about it and ask those nice people (with the best intentions) who display their support to spend their hard earned money on organizations that truly support the troops. You might say, "Hey, that's great that you support the troops! Have you heard of Soldier's Angels or Spirit of America?"
Soldiers' Angels and Spirit of America, while two of my favorites, are not the only organizations out there that help our military (and most are non-profits so your donations are tax deductible).
Look into donating money to these two foundations:
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, along with educational counseling, financial guidance, investment planning, and other programs.
Or 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.
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.
Keystone Soldiers also takes care of soldiers by adoption, matching pen pals, or sending care packages.
Adopt-A-Platoon - another source for adopting soldiers who don't have someone on the homefront.
And, for the more martial people out there, you can even Adopt-A-Sniper.
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.
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.
Displaying your support is wonderful, but, please, think about how you can actually support our troops. The men and women fighting around the world can't see the magnet stuck to your car. Pick one of the organizations above to support the troops - show that you care about their lives while they defend yours.