Don't Forget Military Families on Veterans Day


There are many organizations that use their time and resources to help military families. Each one of them has a slightly different focus, but they all serve a very important purpose: They link military families to resources and to the help they need.

During deployments, life for those back home can be challenging. Finding the support to make it through a medical emergency or a financial contingency can make the difference between feeling like we can handle anything, and being on the verge of losing it when our families need us the most.

And it's not just during deployments that things are tough. Family and friends can sometimes help out during tough times or emergencies, but military families often live far from family and are frequently transient to neighbors and communities. So normal networks that civilians rely on are not as available.

When that's the case, military families need to know that there are people and organizations out there that want to help. Military bases have programs through the family readiness centers, and many individual units use spouse groups to help out their members' families. Sometimes the support is as simple as dropping off a blanket for a new baby or a meal when someone at home is ill, but even these smaller gestures go a long way.

Knowing where help can come can be a two-way street, and you may want to volunteer yourself. Everyone is busy, but volunteering locally or contributing to nonprofits that support service members can really make a difference.

If you want to volunteer or donate outside of your immediate surroundings, there are many organizations to choose from. Here's a small selection:

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that focuses on the specific needs of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, in October, IAVA released a report titled "Women Warriors: Supporting She 'Who Has Borne the Battle,'" and launched a weeklong initiative to honor and advocate for female troops and veterans. Its website has many ways to get involved.

Blue Star Families is a group whose mission is to "Support, Connect and Empower Military Families." It's a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, created by military families that offer help online and through local chapters.

Wish for Our Heroes, a new organization, will launch its website on Nov. 2. The foundation will offer help to military families facing extreme hardships, but also to those facing the daily struggles of military living, by matching wish requests with volunteers. A family may request help with mowing the lawn while a husband is deployed, financial issues, child-care needs, finding mental health support or anything else.

The National Military Family Association (NMFA) offers a variety of programs and support for military families, from children's camps to other support for spouses.

The Association of The United States Army (AUSA) offers support for Army families through various initiatives and resources. 

This is just a small sample of the many great groups out there ready to provide help, and they often are looking for volunteers to help provide it. It's just a matter of finding the perfect match and giving back to the community.

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