Military families face unique struggles. Families of deployed veterans deal with the difficulties associated with temporary single parenthood as well as anxiety from short-term and long-term separation from loved ones. Families also worry about the deployed family member’s well-being while away from home. Here are a few ways you can help on the home front by sharing your skills and interests to provide extra support.
5. Send a Package
Many people are aware of programs to send packages to military members overseas, but military families here in the United States also enjoy receiving care packages. You can actually help to send comfort and care packages by donating to The Veterans Site.
4. Share a Skill
The spouses of deployed veterans often live far away from family and friends who traditionally provide support during difficult times. A military parent with an absent spouse might welcome help with yard work, car repairs or child care. Look at your skill set, and decide what types of services you are qualified to help with, and offer your support to a military family in your area. Consider shoveling snow after a storm, replacing a broken window or providing transportation to medical appointments.
It is also possible to share more specialized skills. Do you love art? Offer a free art class to military kids or volunteer to organize families in painting a community mural. Are you good with computers? Offer free tech support for home computers belonging to military families in your area. Check with organizations in your community that serve the military population to find families who would welcome your assistance.
3. Make a Friend
One of the best ways to support the families of deployed veterans is simply by listening to their concerns. Introduce yourself to military families in your area. New families are likely to welcome a source of information about the community. Point out the local schools and the best places to buy groceries. Share information about your favorite local restaurants, fun family activities and local events. Offer to help register a child for school or shop for a new sofa.
Don’t forget military families who have lived in your area for awhile. They also might feel isolated, especially if they face frequent deployments. It is hard to make friends when a lot of your energy goes into other areas of your life. Connect with your new friends regularly via phone to share in both bad days and good, but be patient if they are often too busy to just socialize.
2. Cook a Meal
Offer to bring a meal to a family with a sick child or parent, or offer to bring a meal once a week simply to lighten the load. Ask which day is their busiest, and stop by with a ready-to-go or easy-to-heat offering for the whole family. Alternately, you could have the family over to your place on a regular basis for a meal. This builds connection and provides opportunities for listening while offering physical nourishment to the family.
1. Support a New Parent
Pregnancy, childbirth and new parenthood can be some of the hardest times for a military spouse. Consider offering transportation, extra meal support and babysitting for older siblings to a pregnant military spouse. Organize a baby shower for a first time mom to provide those newborn essentials and help extend her network of connections. If you have the means, donate doula services or childbirth preparation classes to an expectant mother. If you are close, offer to be a birth support person or to provide child care for her other children during labor.