As Thanksgiving approaches, those of us in military and veteran communities will gather around tables and give thanks, and yet, among all the hustle and bustle, something may be missing. This could be a loved one deployed or unable to come home, a loved one who never made it home, or a feeling of loss and disconnection for some families who are transitioning from service or coping with injuries from war or years of service.
As many are wont to do when times are hard, these families will stay busy and do their best to plaster a smile on our faces during the holidays. But the feeling of something missing, the uncertainty of the future, and the heaviness of heart will often remain despite these valiant efforts.
But valiant efforts will be made. Commands overseas and deployed will do their best to be a substitute family, and so will our communities back home. Families with a deployed loved one will add more chairs to their tables, inviting other families with deployed loved ones to join them. Others in our community, some with no military connection whatsoever, just love of country and service, will open their hearts and their homes to service members stationed near them that can’t be with their own families. Some will continue to honor service by volunteering at community events to serve their neighbors in need on Thanksgiving, with hearts filled with gratitude and drive to serve others above self.
At Operation Homefront, most of us have personally experienced how our community can come together to fill a void. 85% of our team at Operation Homefront are veterans or families of active duty. Almost 50% of our staff had a parent who served – giving us a unique connection with the military children we support.
We are honored to see the tradition of service continue year after year through support and response to our Holiday Meals for Military program and the messages and comments we receive about ways to reach out and help military and veteran families during the holidays. But, mostly we know this to be true because this is just what the military and veteran community does.
They look out for each other. They give each other strength.
This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for the opportunity to serve, for the chance to fill a need, whether it be a boost of encouragement or the relief of a burden. We invite you to express your thanks and gratitude. We all have friends, family, loved ones or neighbors who are serving or have served. Join us in giving strength by honoring and recognizing our military and their families through our #GivingStrength initiative. Here are some ideas:
- Submit your personal stories for a chance to be featured on “Operation Homefront Strong Families” or our “Thank Military” Thursdays.
- Email your Message of Thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org or post a photo of a service member, veteran or military family member you know with their name, branch of service and when they served on the Operation Homefront Facebook page with #GivingStrength.
- Support a current need of families who have reached out to us for help. This time of year, we see a dramatic increase in requests for assistance. Any amount you can contribute goes directly to helping a struggling military, transitioning or wounded warrior family.
- Serve. Sign-up today to be an Operation Homefront volunteer to support military families in your area throughout the year.
Go to www.operationhomefront.net/givingstrength to see ways YOU can be #GivingStrength and doing your part for military families in your community and around the country.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Operation Homefront family!