As a military veteran, my heart broke when I read this report in a recently published AP story:
“Suicides are surging among America’s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year…The military also is struggling with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and other misbehavior.”
According to the Wounded Warrior Project, “an estimated 400,000 service members live with the invisible wounds of war including combat-related stress, major depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Another 320,000 are believed to have experienced a traumatic brain injury while on deployment”. Add to that the 48,000 servicemen and women who’ve been physically injured, and it’s easy to see how this could affect soldiers.
American troops are heroic, but they are also human. And they need our help.
Most citizens want to express our appreciation in real and tangible ways, but what can we do?
Here are five practical ways to support our troops:
1. Give honor
It’s almost become cliché to thank the troops for their sacrifice. But knowing that your country stands with you reminds you that you’re working for something bigger than yourself. Whether we’re in conflict or not, never, ever stop giving honor where honor is due.
2. Befriend them
The best support comes from relationships. This is also true of the men and women in our armed forces. By building friendships with those who serve, you not only gain a solid friend, you help improve the morale of our military. Trust me, that gives those who serve a much-needed boost of encouragement.
3. Love their families
Military families need our love and support, too. Think about it. Who pays the heaviest price when our troops are deployed? Their loved ones. Who has their lives disrupted frequently when a military member is relocated? Their loved ones. Who does it affect the most when a soldier, airman, marine, or sailor returns from conflict with injury, stress, depression, or death? Their loved ones. Some of the best ways to show your care for our military is to love on their families.
4. Donate to them
Serving your country comes at a price. Sometimes, the cost is your well-being. And since you don’t enter the military to be rich, sometimes the cost is financial. For a number of veterans, sometimes the cost is a scar that hasn’t quite healed. Thankfully, there are a handful of great organizations doing good work to help and support active-duty military and veterans. In your generosity, consider giving to a reputable military organization.
5. Pray for them
As we read in the report, we need to keep our troops and their families in our prayers. A suicide a day is heartbreaking. Not to mention the divorce rates, increased abuse, injury, depression, and other struggles. For people of faith, we believe that prayer can reach places no person ever could. We trust God to know where it hurts and where healing needs to take place. Never discount the power of a heartfelt prayer.
Every time you meet a member of the military or veteran, know you are standing in the presence of greatness. These warriors deserve our support, love, friendship, and sincere appreciation.
I, for one, am very proud of those who have the courage to serve. They are true heroes.
How will you help support our troops?
For those of you who’ve served, what other suggestions do you have?