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1: Family, Friends, and Neighbors

You don’t need to live near a military installation to have military families in your community. With the unprecedented extensive use of the National Guard and Reserve, military families can be found in every community in the United States. In fact, more than seventy percent of military families live in civilian communities.

Family, friends, and neighbors are well positioned to help support military families. Many times, just thanking the family for their service is appreciated.

Action Items:

  • Talk to your neighbors and those you are in contact with in your community to see if there is a military family that could use some help. Sometimes being willing to help in small ways can help lighten the load of a military family or families of the fallen. Offer to carpool to children’s activities, help shovel snow from a driveway, offer some assistance in caring for the lawn, or invite a military family to take part in your family’s activities. These small gestures can make a difference to a military parent who may need some time to relax or a military spouse who may be feeling alone.

  • Create an online neighborhood user group by using Yahoo or Google. This is a simple way to share information about neighborhood activities, recommended reliable repair companies, and finding babysitters. An online group may also help identify the needs of your neighbors.
  • Consider volunteering to coach a youth sports team or lead a youth organization. Many service members fill these positions and when they’re deployed they leave a void that needs to be filled.
  • Veterans Service Organizations in your community are often aware of opportunities for military families. Contact the American Legion Auxiliary, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), or the USO in your local community to fulfill specific local needs.

Resources:

The National Military Family Association created Toolkits for Military Kids and Teens to give the people in military kids’ lives a way to help them manage stress and affirm the positive aspects of military life. Visit www.militaryfamily.org/publications/deployment-family-research to download the toolkits.

The Military Family Research Institute, in collaboration with National Military Family Association, has created a series of informational brochures titled, How to Help Military Families. These guides provide practical tips and suggestions for helping your neighbors, friends and community members who have a military affiliation. Download the How to Help Military Families brochure.

The American Legion is the Nation’s largest veterans organization. Visit www.legion.org to find a post in your community.

The American Legion Auxiliary is the world's largest women's patriotic service organization with nearly 10,500 units located in every state and some foreign countries. Visit www.legion-aux.org to find a unit near you.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is a Veterans Service Organization with 2.1 million members. Visit www.vfw.org to find a Chapter in your community.

United Services Organization (USO) is an organization dedicated to lifting the spirits of America’s troops and their families. Visit www.uso.org to learn more about their programs.

The Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) in collaboration with PBS has produced a handbook for military families. A Handbook for Family & Friends of Service Members provides solu¬tions for service members and identifies outside tools and resources that may be useful to friends and family members before, during and after deployment. Go to www.realwarriors.net/materials/order/PBSHandbook.php to order the handbook.

Joint Services Support is a program of the National Guard Bureau. Open to all Guard, Reserve and Active Duty families - regardless of Service, JSS provides information on programs and services available in your community. For more information, go to www.jointservicessupport.org.