My name is Benita Koeman, and as a military spouse who has endured three deployments and countless months of training separation with three young children in the past eight years, I value the caring support of family, friends, neighbors, our church, military-supportive businesses, and yes, even strangers,who have extended tangible means of support. Sometimes surfacing on the darkest of days, this support spoke to me, "I am not alone."
It was our second deployment that about broke me. You can read more about that HERE. Because I don't want other military spouses to endure what I did, I was led to create this website which offers civilians practical tools to support the military community.
If you have a particular gift, talent or passion that can be utilized in support of the military community, these resources organized by topic might be of help (more interest-based topics are being added regularly):
Tools to coordinate care
Lotsa Helping Hands
www.LotsaHelpingHands.com - Free, private, web-based communities for organizing friends, family, and colleagues – your ‘circles of community’ – during times of need. Easily coordinate activities and manage volunteers with our intuitive group calendar.
www.CareCalendar.org - CareCalendar is a web based system to organize meals and other help for families during a time of illness or life changing event, such as the birth of a baby or death of a family member. CareCalendar can also be used for long term situations, including homebound and caregiver respite care needs.
Take Them A Meal
www.TakeThemAMeal.com - TakeThemAMeal.com is an free online tool for coordinating the delivery of meals to loved ones. If someone is ill, elderly, or has had a new baby, oftentimes family, friends, co-workers, church members rally around these families to take them meals. In the past, one person would coordinate (by phone or e-mail) the scheduling of the meals. Now, the meal coordinator can use TakeThemAMeal.com to allow the meal deliverers to sign up for the day or days when they will deliver meals to the meal recipients. Coordinating a meal for a group? Check out www.PerfectPotluck.com!
www.MealTrain.com - MealTrain.com is a free solution that simplifies the organization of giving and receiving meals. By allowing the giving party to take into account the recipient’s preferred meal times, food preferences, and available days, the site helps ensure that the recipient gets the meals they enjoy on the days that are most helpful.
The TLC Kitchen
www.thetlckitchen.com Tender. Loving. Care. That’s our passion here at The TLC Kitchen. For many different life events, we are here to help you show someone you care by sending them a delicious, home-style meal prepared in our USDA approved kitchen.
Airports, airplanes and air miles
Are you a pilot, or do you want to assist organizations that offer airline assistance to the military community for a variety of needs? Visit this LINK for opportunities to help. The Honor Flight Network honors America's veterans by transporting them to Washington, DC to visit their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior and terminally-ill vets. Old Glory Honor Flights is dedicated to transporting our local WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials built in their honor. Let's Bring 'Em Home takes donations each year to purchase plane tickets for junior enlisted military personnel, allowing them the opportunity to fly home and spend the holidays with their families. Winged Warriors offers no cost pilot training for active and retired military.
The American Healing Arts Foundation (AHAF) promotes art classes at no cost to our veterans. The Wounded Artist Project sends art kits to war wounded recovering in military hospitals. Veteran Artist Program takes artists, who are also veterans, and propels their works and careers into the mainstream creative arts community through networking, mentorship, collaboration with professional artists, and original productions. The Combat Paper Project utilizes art making workshops to assist veterans in reconciling and sharing their personal experiences as well as broadening the traditional narrative surrounding service and the military culture. Operation Revamp provides art and alternative therapy and employment to help in healing combat stress, PTSD and TBI for veterans and military family members.
Military blood drives save lives: a service member injured in action, a child with cancer, a family member in need of surgery... The Armed Services Blood Program needs your help. If you can't give blood, they suggest that you: organize a blood drive, encourage others to donate, help a friend donate, and/or volunteer at blood drives.
Operation Paperback provides military families with a free shipment of new or gently used books. Books on Bases, Smiles on Faces is a program presented by Blue Star Families in conjunction with Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.). Through this program, books are donated to base libraries, Department of Defense schools, and military-impacted public schools.
The Bowlers to Veterans Link provides recreational and therapeutic programs and services to brighten the days of America's active duty and veteran service men and women.
Cards and letters
If you'd like to write to deployed military personnel, wounded warriors, home front families, veterans, or create cards for military personnel to send home or for military kids to send to their deployed loved one, this page is for you! Learn more...
Families of aging parents, wounded warriors and special needs children need extra love and support. Organizations that reach out to them are listed HERE. Additional resources for caregivers of wounded warriors are listed HERE.
Would you like to encourage deployed military personnel or their families with care packages? This page lists the organizations that oversee that and offers suggestions in what to send! Learn more...
Car transportation, vehicle adaptations, repairs, gas cards, or donate a car
For military families that are coping with deployment or injury recovery, Operation Homefront provides vehicle repair services, through authorized service centers. If you are looking to support a military family with gas cards, contact Operation Homefront. Operation Homefront accepts donated vehicles from the community and provides them to military families without personal transportation. One Car Helps Heroes will auction your donation vehicle for cash for The Yellow Ribbon Coalition, who provides financial assistance, grants and scholarships, and housing and employment assistance and education to individuals who are serving or have served in all branches of our military, and their families. Donating your vehicle to Operation Gratitude funds care packages for deployed service members. Got Your Back Network provides services to families of fallen Soldiers. Vans for Vets will take your donated vehicle. They provide handicap-equipped vehicles, mobile homes and certain classes of water craft along with mental health and outreach services to honorably discharged, disabled American veterans, the homeless veteran and family members, free of charge.
Resources and organizations that assist the military chaplain in their work and ministry are listed HERE. Learn who is supporting the chaplain in their ministry to the military community and consider supporting them.
Baby showers, baby blankets, doula services, gift baskets and more! If you would like to encourage a new military mom or a military mom expecting a baby while her loved one is deployed, consider participating in one of the programs listed HERE.
Help the military spread Christmas cheer - The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation distributes new toys for needy children in the community. The Army's annual Operation Toy Drop is a philanthropic project where Soldiers individually contribute new, unwrapped toys to be distributed to local children's homes and social service agencies. If you would like to adopt a military family at Christmas, visit this LINK. If you live near a military installation, inquire of opportunities to donate toys to their local programs. Each holiday season, each Christmas Decor franchisees nationwide donate their products, resources and time to decorate the homes of local military as a part of the Decorated Family Program. Nominate a family and Christmas Decor will try to decorate their home for the holidays! Trees for Troops provides military families with a fresh, farm-grown Christmas tree for the holidays. Organizations that send special cheer to deployed military personnel during the Christmas season are listed HERE.
A listing of helpful resources for churches who want to learn more about supporting the military community is available HERE. Also be sure to visit the new www.militarybeliever.com website!
Clothing and household goods donation
Your donation of clothing and household goods to ClothingDonations.org supports veterans' programs of Vietnam Veterans of America. If you live near a military installation, you might also consider donating to the installation's thrift store or the lending closet program which assists military families transitioning through a move.
Laptops for the Wounded provides laptops with webcams to wounded troops in military hospitals to help Troops remain in contact with loved ones while recuperating from their combat wounds. Project Valour-IT (Soldiers' Angels) helps provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support Troops recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries. Operation Homefront offers military families coping with deployments and injury recovery a variety of technologies (desktop computers and on occasion, digital cameras) to help bridge the communication lapse. The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation provides laptop computers for wounded soldiers and their families staying in Fisher Houses at military hospitals so they can keep in touch with family and friends, including their still-deployed comrades. Military Family Support gives away computers to help our American heroes, their families and all families who support them! Computers For Soldiers® provides an affordable computer to the families of troops so they can communicate with their loved ones. Operation Homelink™ provides refurbished computers to the spouses or parents of junior enlisted (E1 –E5) U.S. deployed service men and women enabling email communication with their loved one deployed overseas. JDS Computer Donations receives donated laptops to send to deployed units to communicate with their loved ones. Tech for Vets provides computers for veterans in need, especially those wounded, in a homeless shelter or jobless. PCs4Vets provides veterans with the computers, tools, and basic training needed to connect to family, friends and other veterans, find a job or further their education, or even start their own business. Recycled Computer Service Foundation for Veterans provides free computers for veterans.
Would you love to have a meal or two on hand to bless someone with? This LINK offers a listing of freezer meal cookbooks. www.TakeThemAMeal.com or www.MealTrain.com can help you with coordinating meal care. My favorite recipe to share is found HERE.
Are you a counselor? HERE are organizations you may be able to join with to offer counseling to military personnel and their loved ones. Are you aware of Care & Counsel for Combat Trauma (C3T), a self-paced instructional course co-produced by Military Ministry and the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC)? Learn more HERE.
Your expired coupons are valid for an additional six months at overseas commissaries (military grocery stores). Organizations that send expired coupons to military families are listed HERE.
Cleaning for Heroes is the only non-profit dedicated to providing free house cleaning services to disabled or elderly veterans. Members of the United States Military who have injuries sustained in the line of duty that make the task of house cleaning difficult are eligible for our services. Elderly veterans who live alone or with an aging spouse are also eligible.
Discounts for military
We so appreciate those military discounts! If you would like to spread the word about a special offer you would like to extend especially for the military community, contact the organizations listed HERE!
Dogs, monkeys, pets
Are you an animal lover? The numerous organizations that train and supply service dogs for the military community are listed HERE. Monkey Helpers provides specially-trained monkeys and placement support, free of charge, to veterans and others with disabilities. Nowzad Dogs rescues stray and abandoned animals in Afghanistan. Operation Baghdad Pups provides veterinary care and coordinates complicated logistics and transportation requirements in order to reunite beloved pets with their servicemen and women back in the U.S. Puppy Rescue Mission helps Soldiers bring their battle buddies home.
The First Tee will provide life skills eduation and character development to children of men and women of the United States Armed Forces. Golf programs for Wounded Warriors are listed HERE. Bunkers in Baghdad sends golf clubs and equipment to deployed military personnel.
Defending the Blue Line, a non-profit organization created by Soldiers, ensures that children of military members are afforded every opportunity to participate in the game of hockey by providing free equipment for military kids, hockey camps, special events, and financial assistance for registration fees and other costs associated with hockey. USA Warriors Ice Hockey provides a recreational, therapeutic experience and education to wounded military personnel. Other sports opportunities for wounded warriors are listed HERE.
Numerous members of the homeless community are military veterans. A listing of various organizations that reach out to the homeless or those at risk are listed HERE.
Homes, home building, home repairs, landscaping services
Are you interesting in donating a home, building a home or adapting a home for a wounded warrior family? Visit this LINK. Fallen Warriors.org provides homes to the families of those soldiers that have given their lives for our country. Both Hands brings comfort to widows in the form of home repairs and landscaping while partnering with other non-profit organizations to bring aid to orphans. Heroes for Kiddos and Widows exists to bring relief to fatherless children and helpless widows by providing repairs and services, free of charge.
Equine therapy opportunities for military personnel, veterans and their families are listed HERE. Heroes & Horses is an opportunity open to any recent American combat veteran who loves and could benefit from the breathtaking beauty and unique demands of Montana's real ranch country and who craves the sense of accomplishment gained by mastering true horsemanship and skills in the challenging backcountry of America's majestic Rocky Mountains.
Hotel rewards points donation
With Hotels for Heroes, travellers can donate their hotel points so that the Fisher House Foundation can provide free hotel rooms to wounded, injured, and ill military men and women who are undergoing treatment at a military or VA medical center and to attend authorized events. For every 10,000 points you donate, the Hilton hotel's HHonors program will send a US$25 contribution to the charity of your choice. Military charities include: Operation Homefront and Operation Hug-A-Hero.
Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and Iraq
Many deployed military personnel appreciate opportunities for humanitarian service in Afghanistan and Iraq. These opportunities also help to build relations with the local people, which in turn fosters good relations with our military personnel. Learn more...
Hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation
Organizations that will receive your used printer ink cartridges to support their mission of sending care packages for deployed military personnel are: Operation Gratitude, Operation Shoebox
Knitting, crocheting (see also Sewing)
Kenny’s Kaps is an initiative by the Patriotic Pillow Project. Purple skull-caps are crocheted for military personnel who sustained traumatic brain injuries. The Soldiers' Angels VA Crochet & Craft Team makes and sends lapghans (blankets), hats, scarves, trach/stoma bibs, catheter bag covers, ditty bags, wheelchair/walker totes and slipper socks to VA medical facilities around the country. Blankets for Deployed Daddies donates baby blankets to soldiers deployed when their babies are born. These blankets are all hand-knit and sent with a sealable bag to preserve the scent until it arrives back home. Afghans for Afghans is a humanitarian and educational people-to-people project that sends hand-knit and crocheted blankets and sweaters, vests, hats, mittens, and socks to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan. Operation Helping Hands' American Angels need volunteers who knit, crochet, loom and sew for Comfortghans (for wounded servicemembers), Heroghans (for families of fallen servicemembers), Operation Military Baby (Ft. Stewart, GA) and other projects. Operation Bundles of Joy provides newborns of our military servicemen and their families with Bundles Of Joy packages that include handmade and new baby items. We accept donations of yarn, fabric, batting, or other materials that can be used by our volunteers to make baby items.
Here are military-supporting organizations that offer legal aid or assistance to the military community. If you would like to offer your services to the military community, this page can connect you with existing programs. Learn more...
Local opportunities to help
If you would like to learn more of opportunities to help in your community, visit this LINK.
The military marriage has the added stress factors of frequent separation (deployment or geographical separation), long work hours, frequent moves... Even the good marriage is tested. Are you passionate about building strong marriages in the military community? Learn more about resources available to strengthen military marriages and consider how you can join in HERE.
Blue Star Riders is an organization of riders and non-riders who support those who defend our freedom. Our activities include visiting hospitals and outreach centers, attending funerals for fallen heroes, and to spread the word of the Fallen and Wounded Warrior Torch. We bring awareness of our fallen and wounded warriors by attending veterans events like Cripple Creek, Rolling Thunder and special memorial services for families. The Patriot Guard Riders is a diverse amalgamation of riders from across the nation. Our main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family. We do this to show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities and to shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors. Combat Veterans International ride in honor and respect of all Prisoners of War, Missing in Action, and those brothers and sisters who were killed in combat supporting our country, in past, present, and future military actions. The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association sponsors and/or participates in many motorcycle-related charity events each year, and as a non-profit organization, donates to various veteran care facilities and veteran charities. The Canadian Veteran Freedom Riders provides a Riding Club (RC) which welcomes all veterans and veteran supporters who wish to share their enthusiasm for motorcycling and for the camaraderie of military life.
Donate your cell phone - Cell Phones for Soldiers turns old cell phones into prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas. Operation Shoebox collects your old cell phones and recycles them to help purchase phone cards and to assist with the postage costs. Operation Gratitude has partnered with GRC Wireless Recycling to raise money through cell phone recycling. Up to $30 (or more) will be earned for each donated phone. Donating retired personal electronic devices (i.e., mobile phones, PDAs, and MP3 players) will allow The Armed Forces Foundation (AFF) to tranform these devices into dollars to support their programs for military families. Other organizations that provide phone cards for the military community and other phone communication options are listed HERE. Organizations the give Wounded Warriors free phone cards are listed HERE. With the VFW's Operation Uplink, Troops can call home–at no charge—from internet cafes throughout Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait every month of the year
There are a number of organizations that offer free photography sessions for military families before, during, and after deployment of their loved one. Are you a photographer? Opportunities for you to offer your services are listed HERE.
Are you a prayer warrior? Operation We Are Here lists many of the prayer needs of the military community. Our needs extend well beyond the safe return of our loved one. Learn more...
Random acts of kindness
Or, what my church practices, Random Acts of Christlike Kindness (RACK Outreach). This might mean paying for a meal, raking leaves, shoveling snow, leaving an anonymous gift at the door, coming back to the office with an extra coffee for your military spouse co-worker, offering a hug, offering a service member your place in line ~ you'll never know how much this shows us that someone cares, and perhaps at a time we need it most!
Thanks-A-Bunch™ gives you the opportunity to say "thanks" to an American Hero for their service and sacrifice with the offer - "May I help buy you lunch or dinner?" We've all experienced a time when we thought about buying a meal for an America's Hero or just walking up to a soldier and saying thanks.
Red Shirt Friday
Wear red on Fridays to show support for our servicemen and women. Learn more...
Remember our heroes by running! Wear Blue: Run to Remember is a running community that serves as a living memorial to the service and sacrifice of the American military. Consider starting a new chapter in your community. Run for the Fallen also hosts events to run and remember our fallen. Team Red, White and Blue's mission is to enrich the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to people in their community through physical and social activity.
Opportunities to sew adaptive clothing, blankets, pillows and quilts for wounded warriors are listed HERE. Organizations needing your help to sew Christmas stockings for deployed military personnel are listed HERE. Opportunities to sew quilts for loved ones of the fallen are listed HERE. Sewing Saints TM of Project Prayer Flag - Various Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego sewing machine manufacturers and business, have donated thousands of dollars in new sewing machines which are given freely to the wives of deployed U.S. Marines.
Everyday, in every city, there are events with empty seats that could be filled by those who serve or served. More than that, many event tickets are simply unaffordable for average people. Do you have tickets that you would like to donate and receive a tax deductible receipt? The Veteran Tickets Foundation has teamed up with major sports teams, leagues, promoters, organizations, venues and everyday ticket holders to provide free and discounted tickets to the more than 26 million military and veterans in the United States. Gameday for Heroes is a not-for-profit organization that sends wounded and active duty military personnel to college sporting events, focusing mainly on football, basketball, and baseball. Gameday For Heroes accepts monetary donations, unused tickets from season ticket holders, donations from university or college athletic departments and ticket offices, and in-kind donations. Heroes Meeting Heroes helps veterans get the chance to meet and see famous comedians, music groups, etc who want to show their support of the troops.
A listing of organizations that support deployed military personnel on Valentine's Day can be found HERE. Valentine's Day care package ideas can be found HERE. Sweethearts for Soldiers supports active duty female service members with a drawing on Valentine's Day. AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service) stores offer a Valentines for Veterans program in which patrons can send free valentines to veterans at VA hospitals, Fisher House and military retirement facilities. If you are not located near an AAFES and you would like to participate in encouraging active and retired military personnel in Canada or the U.S. with Valentines for Veterans, visit this LINK.
Veteran owned businesses
Veteran Owned Business is a comprehensive, user friendly directory of small, medium and large businesses owned by veterans, active duty military, reservists and service disabled veterans. Buy Veteran is a national campaign spearheaded by the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) to bring the success and momentum of the National Veteran Business Movement to all of America’s 3 million veteran-owned businesses The unemployment rate among veterans is the highest of almost any group and for disabled veterans it’s even worse. The Wounded Warrior Veterans Directory lists service disabled veteran owned small businesses.
Veterans Day and other significant days and observances
This page has a listing of military observances and also a listing of those special days in our lives when we're missing our loved one just a little more because they can't be home. Includes links to resources specific to these days. Learn more...
Are you passionate about ensuring that our military personnel and their families have opportunity to vote? Get involved with these organizations! The Federal Voting Assistance Program offers voting help for uniformed service members, their families, and citizens living outside the U.S. The Military Voter Protection Project, a service of Families United USA, works to defend our military members’ right to vote and to provide them with the very right that they defend. Overseas Vote Foundation helps overseas American citizens and uniformed services voters register faster, more easily and accurately than ever before. Learn more...
Are you in the wedding industry? Bridal salons are uniting across America to donate and giving away wedding gowns to qualified military brides through Brides Across America. Help military brides to find the wedding gown of their dreams without the financial stress of purchasing a wedding gown.
Yard work, snow removal
If your company offers lawncare and/or snow removal services, consider joining Project Evergreen's efforts to support military families.GreenCare for Troops is in the process of helping hundreds of volunteers provide free lawn and landscape services for thousands of military families nationwide. SnowCare for Troops is in the process of helping volunteers provide snow removal services for military families nationwide. Learn more...
Share Operation We Are Here
Tell military families about Operation We Are Here! We offer a clearinghouse of resources available to help them and opportunities for them to connect with others who do understand (see GET CONNECTED). Note: PDF document to be added shortly
Guidance in charitable giving
practical insights in caring
as shared by the military community. ~ Things we don't always feel comfortable sharing with you.
What you can do to help.
What to say...what not to say.
What we wish you understood.
Learn more about caring for:
If you would like to support a specific part of the military community, visit these links to learn more about what other organizations are already doing.
Consider how you can support these organizations!
Organizations that support
Families coping with:
Business cards and postcards.
Free to download, print, and share!
I can help you to find a way to support the military community that is a good fit for you and equip you with some great resources and information to help!
I appreciate that you have taken a moment of your time to learn what you can do to help.
The military community needs you!
Tools for military supporters
Stop, look and listen, then go!
I am often asked, "What can I do to help?"
What you choose to do to help and how you do it...IT MATTERS!
Includes tools to find LOCAL OPPORTUNITIES
Copyright 2008 - 2013 Benita Koeman, Operation We Are Here. All rights reserved.
Operation We Are Here is a HUB of RESOURCES for the military community and military supporters.
Military support is not a concept to embrace; military support is sacrificial action. Visit our military support TOOLKIT.