Today we celebrate Veterans Day, "a chance for Americans to remember those who have fought for their country. It's also a chance for veterans to recall their service — the sacrifices, the dangers — and how it changed their lives." (1)
Check out this site today: 5 Ways To Help A Veteran
My father joined the US Navy during WWII at 16, right after Pearl Harbor was bombed, by lying about his age. He served proudly and well, working as a navigator on balao class submarines. (2) He lost many friends in the war, was wounded in action, and was decorated for bravery under fire. One of the subs he served on was hit and in danger of being captured. Dad, acting under orders, managed to deliberately maneuver the ship on to a reef, adding enough damage to the hull so it sank, thus keeping it out of enemy hands. He and the ship's captain were the last to leave ship. The survivors were captured and spent a horrific time in a Japanese prison camp. They later escaped with the help of Australian commandos and Filipino resistance fighters and Dad went on to serve on four more subs, serving his country until the end of war in the pacific. Despite what he and his friends endured, he never carried any hate in his heart and later went on to work with and make friends among Japanese engineers during his long career in aerospace.
Thanks also to my Mom, who served in the USO.
My thoughts today are with all those who served and with their loved ones. I also keep in my heart the many gay men and women in the armed forces who cannot serve their country openly, but who still serve it nonetheless with honor and courage.
If you know a military family, please give them your support. (3)
(1) Some of these stories can be heard at the NPR link above.
(2) You can tour one of these subs, the famous Bowfin, at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii
(3) from Military.com
The following charitable organizations help send gifts, cards, and care packages to our troops:
The Billy Blanks Foundation - The Billy Blanks Foundation was founded by the creator of Tae Bo. One of the foundations many projects is sending care packages to U.S. Servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Adopt a Platoon - Support the troops through gifts and sponsored mail.
Any Soldier - Sponsor care packages to servicemembers in Iraq.
Army and Air Force Exchange Services - Purchase gift certificates for active and hospitalized servicemembers.
Blue Star Mothers - Organizes postcards to troops and care packages, and is currently petitioning Congress for reduced air fares for servicemembers.
Books for Soldiers - Donate books, movies, and more.
Cell Phones for Soldiers - Donate your old cell phones, which pay for calling cards for our troops.
Commissary Gift Certificates - Give the gift of groceries -- buy or donate gift certificates.
DefendAmerica - Send a virtual thank-you card.
GI-Bracelet.org - Buy a bracelet to support the troops, and contribute to a fund of your choice.
A Million Thanks - Collects emails and letters of appreciation for our armed forces.
Operation Air Conditioner - Help pay for air conditioners and heaters for the troops.
Operaton Dear Abbey - Send greetings and messages of support.
Operation Give - Donate toys to be given to the children of Iraq.
Operation Gratitude - Contribute to care packages sent to our servicemembers.
Operation Homefront Hugs - Contribute to care packages, or adopt a servicemember.
Operation Troop Aid - Provide care packages for our deployed U.S. Servicemembers.
Operation Uplink - Donate a calling card to help keep servicemembers in touch with their families.
Operation USO Care Package - Sponsor a care package for $25.
Treats for Troops - Purchase care packages for Soldiers.
Help with Mailing Packages
Instructions on Sending Mail to Servicemembers - Straight from the U.S. Postal Service, instructions and recommendations on sending individual mail to servicemembers.
American Red Cross Armed Forces - Offers medical services to active duty, veterans, reservists and families nationwide.
Angels of Mercy / No Soldier Left in Need - Donate clothes to wounded soldiers returning stateside, or donate to long-term rehabilitation programs
Armed Services Blood Program - Donate blood that will be sent to areas of need around the world.
Blinded Veterans Association - Volunteer and scholarship organization provides care and support for blind veterans and their families.
CAUSE: Comfort for America's Uniformed Services Elite - Provides comfort items for troops recuperating in military hospitals and rehabilitation centers from wounds and injuries.
Fisher House - Support families whose loved ones are being treated at military and VA hospitals.
VA Voluntary Service - Volunteer to help care for wounded veterans.
The Walter Reed Society - Walter Reed Society helps provide for the needs of many returning injured servicemembers and their families.
USO - Donations to the USO pay for hospital support for recuperating soldiers, USO entertainment tours and other important services.
These organizations provide transitions services, scholarships and vocational programs to help servicemembers and their families re-integrate in to the civilian world.
The Billy Blanks Foundation - The Billy Blanks Foundation was founded by the creator of Tae Bo. The foundation offers scholarships and support for after school programs.
The Freedom Alliance - Organizes donations and contributions for our servicemembers, and also awards scholarships.
Operation One Family - Helps provide life skills, education and continuing support for the families of our fallen military heroes.
Operation Purple - National Military Family Association (NMFA) volunteer program provides educational camps for military children.
Sacred Heart Lodge - Provides a cost free hassle free vacation to those Soldier's who are returning from War to reconnect to their Families.
Soldiers' Angels - Support group aids wounded Soldiers with transitional backpacks, personal visits, and phone calls, etc., and also sends thanks via letters and email to the U.S. military and its allies.
Cartoon Art by Cox & Forkum