Supporting our troops

I was reading one of the blogs that I visit, and today's post was very good. I wanted everyone to read it.
I know that as Thanksgiving and Christmas are around the corner (yes Christmas things are up in some stores, yuck) we all get to thinking what can we do for others, but we all need to think about doing for others around the non holiday days.
Well here is the copy of her blog post, enjoy!

At MMW, we know many of you have spouses or family in the military; we are also aware that supporting our Troops means more than wearing a lapel pin- but often, we really just don’t know what to do. Here, Mo Mommy, wife of a deployed serviceman, mother of three, MMW reader and member of the LDS church, offers her point of view on some real things individuals can do to help families who are facing the prolonged separation and stress deployment brings. Feel free to comment or add other ideas you might have.

My family just had the opportunity to go through an all too common experience; the deployment of a loved one to the Middle East. We had almost a year to prepare to say “See you later” to our husband/daddy, but that doesn’t ease the heartache when the moment finally comes. Per custom, the unit had a farewell ceremony for soldiers and their families. The selflessness and volunteer spirit of the companies, organizations, and individuals involved was remarkable, and I consider it my duty to inform others. There is simply no other way to truly thank such service.

The first thing we saw when we walked in the armory was huge tables set up and filled with food. Costco had graciously donated 14 of their huge cakes- decorated with flags and iced with “Come Home Safely”. Rows of vegetable trays, bins overflowing with icy soda, and huge bags of chips covered the tables. Hundreds of dollars worth of food was donated specifically for this event, reaffirming why we have been Costco members forever. Their community support deserves to be applauded.

After the speeches were given and everyone started to mill around, the USO volunteers began circulating. These kind souls stand by and watch this heartbreak several times a year, but they volunteer with a smile. Every child was given a brand new DVD and a special stuffed friend to keep them company. Bumper stickers, playing cards, lapel pins… I think they were really trying to distract us and lighten the mood more than anything. And it worked. There wasn’t a single tear from my kids the whole time, as they chatted with the volunteers and played with other children. I later learned that when the soldiers got to their departure point around 3 a.m., there was a lovely older woman handing out Girl Scout cookies, all smiles and thank you’s. The USO does so much more than just arrange shows for troops overseas, they provide comfort and services for the families they leave at home as well. Please visit USO.org to find out how you can support this amazing organization.

I’d like highlight a few websites useful for anyone wishing to support families of deployed military personnel. AnySoldier.com connects soldiers overseas with people back home to facilitate the shipping of letters and packages. Through this website, you can contact units and send packages of specific things the soldiers need and/or want for comfort and touches of home. You used to be able to write a letter and address it to “Any Soldier/Sailor/Airman/Marine”, but due to security concerns that’s no longer the case. Letterstosoldiers.org has filled that gap by offering online submissions of letters they will then print and send for you. You don’t even need a postage stamp!

FlatDaddies.com offers a full size printed photo of deployed parents. We recently got ours and it’s been a great joy for our kids. The boys hug him and can’t wait to take him to events. Our daughter just turned one, and one of my husband’s fears is she won’t know him when he comes home. This will help her recognize him and keep her used to seeing him around the house, ideally making his return easier for everyone. As much as everyone loved the Flat Daddies program and often sang its praises, Flat Daddies just weren’t receiving enough donations to continue providing these for free. The Executive Director has been very helpful in trying to create a way to accept donations specifically for my husband’s unit, so please comment if you are interested in sponsoring a family. You can also contact your local Red Cross chapter and encourage them to include a request for Flat Daddy funds in their Service to Armed Forces (SAF) grant proposals. Find your local chapter at here.

The thing that really struck me this time around was the difference being connected to a National Guard unit after many years as an active-duty family. On active-duty this is an accepted part of life, though it’s still tough. Many of my fellow spouses in the Guard component have never been through a deployment, they never even saw it coming. Many families are taking pay cuts, and with a completely civilian life they are lacking many of the close support systems an active-duty community has for deployments. The sacrifice of the groups involved has given many of these families a safety-net they never knew they had, and has helped to them to realize they aren’t alone. Please take the time to do what you can in support of those who support our troops and their families.

* May no soldier be unloved,
* May no soldier walk alone,
* May no soldier be forgotten until they all come home.

That was her post, I would also like to add this website to go and visit: www.operationhugahero.com
Thanks for taking time to read this and to think about what we all can do to support our troops.
God bless America, and Good bless our troops, and god bless the families at home.

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