U.S. military service members are ready to be called upon at any time to protect the country, and May, which is Military Appreciation Month, is the perfect opportunity to express gratitude for their sacrifices
Military Appreciation Month was initially recognized by a U.S. Senate resolution in 1999. Although the entire month is designated to honoring past and present military members and their families, there are several holidays sprinkled throughout the month that honor service members, including Loyalty Day, VE Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Mother’s Day, Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day.
“This year in particular, many more service members are overseas supporting NATO due to war in Ukraine. These deployments should be a reminder to all Americans of the importance of expressing our gratitude to the men and women in the military who sacrifice so much for us,” says Christopher Plamp, United Service Organizations (USO) senior vice president of Operations, Programs, and Entertainment and an Air Force veteran.
With its long history of keeping America’s military service members connected to family, home and country, the USO is providing five ideas for how to honor and support service members and their families.
1. Say “Thank You.” The simplest way to support service members is to thank them for their service. According to the Blue Star Families 2022 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, only one-third of active-duty families feel a sense of belonging to their local civilian community.
You can send a message of support and encouragement to service members through the USO’s website.
“Acknowledging the immense challenges of military life can have a real, positive impact. The simple act of thanks can show military members that their work is valued and appreciated,” says Plamp.
2. Send a Care Package. Sending care packages with items such as snacks and hygiene products lets service members know that the American people are thinking of them, even from thousands of miles away. The USO Care Package program simplifies the process of sending military care packages, which can be complicated. You can support this program by making a monetary donation to the USO. Another option is to check out the USO Wishbook, where you can select a symbolic gift, such as a USO Care Package, from a catalog to be sent to service members. In 2022, the USO delivered 200,000 of these care packages globally.
3. Support Military Spouses. Deployments are challenging for military spouses. Aside from being separated from their loved ones, military spouses must also shoulder household responsibilities alone. For military families with children, this can be even more difficult. Offer to cook a family dinner or pick up groceries. Even simply reaching out to ask how they are doing can make a difference.
4. Volunteer. There are many challenging, but rewarding volunteer opportunities that serve the men and women in uniform, including with the USO, where you will see the impact of your support firsthand. Many USO locations need volunteers who can facilitate programs and events, and help ensure the military community has the resources and support they need to carry out their missions.
5. Donate. Show your support through the annual USO T-shirt campaign, which raises funds for the USO’s mobile and center operations, programs and entertainment, transition services and more. The campaign also builds awareness and understanding of military families. To learn more, visit https://www.uso.org/tshirt.
“From simple words of gratitude to hands-on volunteering, there are many ways to let service members who selflessly put their lives on the line every day know we value their service,” says Plamp.