8 Ways You Can Show Service Members You Care

“Support the troops” becomes a rallying cry at the beginning of an armed conflict or war, as the nation basks in a wave of patriotism amidst reminders of the sacrifices these brave men and women are making. Think about it: they are separating themselves from their family, friends, and the people they love most. They are leaving various levels of comfort and luxury, their jobs, and the freedoms of civilian life for a highly disciplined, rigorous training program. This is followed by an assignment to an unknown location and potential danger for an indeterminate amount of time.

Yet the public’s distaste for conflict and anti-war sentiment replaces patriotic fervor soon after the first images of the wounded and dead returning become available, and interest in the brave men and women wanes. Does this lessen their hardship and sacrifice or place them in less danger? Does it lessen the burden of their loved ones, or ease the suffering for those who do not return?

These men and women may enlist for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s to support a cause for which they feel passionate, or to honor a family tradition. Maybe it’s to improve their lot in life, or it’s out of a sense of honor and duty. They do not fight as Democrats or Republicans, rich or poor, nor blacks or whites. They fight for us all as Americans and represent the best and most noble aspects of our nation. For this, they deserve no less than our deepest gratitude and our utmost respect. Here are a few ways you can make a difference in the daily routine of an enlisted service man or woman by showing that you care and appreciate their sacrifice.

8. Express Your Gratitude

When you see a service person in uniform in an airport, grocery store, or movie theater, take a moment to approach them with a friendly smile and offer them a sincere thank you for their service. Such a simple gesture can have an amazing effect on a veteran, especially one who has experienced loss or who is feeling underappreciated. Your gratitude reminds them that they are not forgotten, that someone appreciates their efforts, and that the sacrifices made by them and their fellow service members were not in vain.

Pfc. Travis Kaufman, assigned to the 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division receives a hand shake from a USO volunteer as Kaufman departs the Dallas Fort Worth Airport while returning from Environment Moral Leave (EML) to continue the brigade’s 15-month deployment in southern Iraq, Dec. 10. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Damian Steptore)
Photo: U.S. Army/Sgt. 1st Class Damian Steptore

7. Show Up

Attend Memorial Day parades, Veterans Day observances, and other veteran events in your community. Don’t be ashamed to be that person at the front of the crowd, waving the flag and decked out in patriotic colors. No one is going to criticize your wardrobe, and you’re sure to bring a tear to more than one veteran’s eye.

Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Hailey Haux

Click ‘next’ to read on and learn more ways you can show support for our troops!

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