How to Help Military Families During the Holiday Season

During the rush and scramble of the holiday season, we often forget that there are people who can’t be with their friends and families because they’re overseas or on duty. Often they have no presents, no decorated Christmas trees or home-cooked meals. Military service members sacrifice so much for us, and one of the biggest sacrifices is not being home during a time of year that emphasizes togetherness. They keep us safe so we can embrace the spirit of the season without fear.

My family is one of many military families. My brother served in the Marine Corps for four years, including an eight-month stint in Afghanistan that ran right through the holidays. He told me later that being away at that time of year was one of the hardest parts of being overseas. There’s no snow in Afghanistan, no pine trees or decorative lights. There’s no warm fireplace or meal cooked with Grandma’s traditional recipes. Trying to call home just to hear our voices was a struggle filled with static and the stress of knowing he had a limited amount of time to speak.

It was the dreariest holiday season I’ve ever experienced. We were constantly worried for him. My mother cried, and I’m pretty sure I recall shedding some of my own tears over having a Christmas without my brother at home.

Other military families face similar challenges and, like us, miss their troops desperately when they’re gone. Further, service members often report feeling depressed and lonely during the holiday season. Fortunately, there are ways we can help spread a little holiday cheer to these people to whom we owe so much.

If you have the time or the means, consider one of these options:

  • Adopt a military family. Military families sometimes feel financial strain, especially during the holidays. By sponsoring a family in need, you can provide gifts for the children and gift cards toward a festive holiday meal.
  • Participate in Holiday Mail for Heroes. Have a few spare holiday cards lying around? A program run by the American Red Cross sends mail to our service members, veterans, and families to help brighten their holidays. Be sure to read the guidelines!
  • Work with Full Circle Home. This nonprofit program helps service members send their families and loved ones boxes filled with notes and presents. Volunteer or help them with fundraising activities.

For more ideas and programs that offer holiday cheer to our deserving service members and military families, visit the American Red Cross or Military Benefits. Your local religious communities may also offer ways to support our troops. With your help, we can spread some joy to people who are incredibly deserving of recognition during the holidays.

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