Guest blog from Bob McGowan, current member of our Board of Directors, and active volunteer for our Back-to-School Brigade
I am a former Marine who served for a few years at the tail end of the Vietnam War. My Dad was a World War II Marine who was severely wounded in the battle of Okinawa. Both of my grandfathers served in World War I.
Growing up in the 50s and 60s, it seemed like every family had someone who had fought in WWII, Korea or was headed to Vietnam. As such, everyone knew a little about the price that had to be paid so we could enjoy our way of life.
Most of us have heard how so many on the “homefront” supported the war effort and our troops during WWII through bond drives, scrap collections, Victory gardens and USO events. In fact, when I used to hear the word “homefront,” I would think of that era and how our nation rallied to support our troops.
Now when I think of that word, I think of Operation Homefront. Operation Homefront gives us an opportunity to connect with our troops and their families to show them that we really do appreciate what they do for us.
These days, with less than one half of one percent of our population serving in the Armed Services, I believe most Americans have lost touch with our troops and what hardships they endure. Most Americans can’t imagine a six-week work project in a foreign land, let alone a six-month tour of duty with someone shooting at you!
I first got involved with Operation Homefront in 2008 when I worked for the company Airgas in Pittsburgh. Airgas chose them as their Corporate Charity and encouraged all employees to get involved at the local level. This was exactly what I was looking for, so I joined the Pennsylvania/Delaware/New Jersey field office as a volunteer where I could help out during the Back-To-School Brigade events and anything else that came our way.
The Back-to-School Brigade, where we provide free school supplies to military kids, is such a great time for volunteers to get personally involved and to get the opportunity to meet some of our service members and their families. Dollar Tree has been a tremendous partner for many years and anyone who visits one of their stores will see posters about Operation Homefront displayed prominently. I’ve picked up school supplies at many stores over the years and I always thank the managers and their staff for supporting our troops.
Helping to pack the backpacks or handing them to the kids while their parents look on is a heartwarming experience that will stay with you a long time. Those families have more than enough going on in their lives. You can see the gratitude in their eyes. I love to see when the parents encourage their kids to come up to the volunteers and thank them personally while the parents look on. You can bet that every time they look at that backpack, they will remember where it came from.
I’m so proud to volunteer for Operation Homefront and love to see all the great things that we’ve done for military families over the years. I have been very blessed to be a part of this organization and I am extremely proud of all the volunteers that have pitched in along the way.
About 1Military 1Family: Back-to-School Brigade: 1Military 1Family is a national initiative that focuses on building stronger communities by welcoming new families and helping them successfully integrate into the neighborhoods, schools and businesses in their area. Learn more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.operationhomefront.net/1Mil1Fam