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Supporting Our Armed Forces – From Mail to Adoption: Your Call

LongIsland.com

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Whether you just want to add your voice to the current holiday greetings or want to do something on a regular recurring basis, the simple answer is you can. And, it is not all that difficult to do once you have made up your mind as to the level of support you want to give.

From the Simplest To...

Our current armed forces' and military veteran's lives have touched so many of us, that over the years a variety of "programs" have been put in place that allow those so inclined to support our current military members in almost any way you can think of. There are online memorials for those who "gave the last full measure of devotion." Programs to support the children of our fallen heroes. Programs that assist you when you want to send your support to any soldier in harm's way, but have no idea of what to send, who to send it to, or how to send it. You can give blood. You can give of your time. You can write a letter. You can help provide cell phones so our servicemembers can call their loved ones. You can even donate your frequent flyer miles to troops coming home for emergencies or R&R.; And of course, you can adopt a soldier, their unit, or even a war-dog and their handler.

Where to Begin

In a word, locally. What's better than helping a servicemember? Helping a neighbor's son or daughter who is in the service. Your local American Legion, Veteran of Foreign Wars ("VFW"), or AMVETS ("American Veterans") Post can provide you with information as to the programs they are involved with, and the local Military Units they are supporting.

And In General

For a detail overview (yes, it's full of detail, but still only an overview) two sources provide a plethora of information.

Stars and Stripes (

http://www.stripes.com/

) is a daily newspaper published for the U.S. military, Department of Defense civilians, contractors, and their families. Unique among the many military publications, Stars and Stripes operates as a First Amendment newspaper, free of control and censorship. They have published continuously in Europe since 1942, where readers currently number around 80,000. They serve about 60,000 readers in the Pacific, where they have published a daily paper since 1945. Their website includes a Servicemember Support Organizations page (

http://www.stripes.com/webpages.asp?id=53

). On it you will find listings for over 65 programs, each of which provides you, your organization, or your community with a different opportunity to support the troops.

America Supports You (

http://americasupportsyou.mil/

) is a nationwide program launched by the Department of Defense, recognizes citizens' support for our military men and women and communicates that support to members of our Armed Forces at home and abroad. The America Supports You website is provided as a public service by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense-Public Affairs. On its Show Your Support page (

http://americasupportsyou.mil/americasupportsyou/help.html

), and whether you want to send a care package to a soldier, donate airline miles to help reunite returning military men and women with their families, support scholarship funds or send support to wounded service members, you will find listings of over 150 non-profit organizations dedicated to helping our troops and their families, organized into 15+ categories.

Its Send Care Packages category (

http://americasupportsyou.mil/AmericaSupportsYou/send_packages.html

) includes a list of over 70 organizations that deal with ways to provide a little bit of home to our troops.

When All Else Fails

You can always ask your questions about supporting our troops (or any military related question) to me at

veterans@oysterbay-ny.gov

.

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt