A couple days ago, on Twitter alone, I saw loads of people express their hatred for Valentine’s Day.
I read tweets like, “Valentine’s Day is so stupid & pointless. I hate it.”
Or this, “I hate the peoples who celebrate Valentine’s Day.”
And then there’s, Miss Cra-Cra Drama Diva putting her two cents in. “Happy Valentine’s Day. I hate my life and I want to die.”
Seriously though, I get it. Maybe not to the extent of the aforementioned examples, but yeah, being single on Valentine’s Day can suck a little. I’ve been there many a time.
And I remember it never made me feel better when people would say, “Oh, it’s just another day,” or, “You wouldn’t feel so bad if Hallmark didn’t make such a big deal out of it.”
In retrospect, I wish someone had urged me to look at the situation from a different perspective. I know, much easier said than done when one’s all caught up in the moment. But really, it could be a whole lot worse.
You could be one of the thousands of deployed service members on Valentine’s Day. Or Yom Kippur. Or Christmas. Where they’re not only far away from significant others (if they even have one), but apart from loved ones period.
This has been on my mind for the last several days after texting back and forth with my buddy, who’s a Marine. I found out he was about to be deployed, and he’ll be away from his wife and kid for almost a year. It made me sick to my stomach just imagining what he must be feeling.
So, try envisioning what it would feel like being in their shoes for even a few minutes. Just putting a teensy weensy bit of effort thinking about a deployed service member’s experience will hopefully turn your craptacular day around.
However, if you’re still finding yourself down in the dumpers after my less than thrilling spiel, I know a very effective and speedy way to feel better. Do something nice for another person.
And since we’re already on the topic of our country’s military…
1) Send a Care Package to a Service Member
Many times, a U.S. Service Member has no one back home, sending them little goodies here and there, reminding them that, “Hey, you’re not just the knees of a bee, you’re the feet, ankles and the freshly shaved legs of that sucker.”
Fortunately, there are quite a few sites out there making it super simple for us to do a little somethin’ somethin’ for our military.
In addition to supporting the deployed service members, Operation Gratitude assists wounded warriors as well as veterans in need. This nonprofit seriously could not make it any easier for us to help out our service members. The organization does this by providing a Wish List on Amazon.
If you’re not familiar with Amazon’s Wish List, it’s where you add stuff to a list that you can share with your family and friends.
BTW, Wish Lists are brilliant for children around birthdays and Christmas time.
But, I digress.
You choose which products you would like to donate, make your purchase and then bim, bam, boom, mission accomplished!
No packing the items up, no making a special trip to the post office, and depending on the items you’re buying, no paying for shipping. Operation Gratitude takes care of all that when you buy the stuff on Amazon.
Kinda cool, huh?
Purchase a Care Package
Now, if you’re one of the many people who don’t seem to have enough hours in the day, there’s no need to stress about finding time to put a care package together. Just buy one from Operation Gratitude!
And get this. It’s only $15! Mmm Hmm.
The best part? “Each package contains donated products valued at $75-100.” Whaaaat?
Plus, they take care of everything. Pretty sweet deal, right? So go ahead, you generous little beast, buy a care package here!
Sending Your Own Care Package
Now, if you’d rather send a care package with more of your own personal flair such as a crocheted beanie or hand-painted postcards, oh how I admire you.
The only quasi-DIY thing I really know how to do is hang flowers upside down to dry out. And I’m willing to bet nobody would want to open up their care package to see a ragged, broken-down, dried out ole flower staring back at them. 😉
Read the information here for tips on mailing your care package (e.g., package size restrictions, suggestions for shipping, forms to include, etc.).
Just know you have to scroll down the page a bit before seeing “Shipping Information.”
I promise it’s there though!
Soooo…What Do I Put In the Care Package?
If you have no clue what these men and women would want in their care package, that is a-ok. Neither did I before writing this post.
When asked, many Service Members mentioned things to pass the time like games. And games. Oh, and more games. Books and movies were another popular answer.
They also dug snacks and condiments, specifically hot sauce and…
Wait for it…
Taco Bell sauce packets.
Holy crap yeah! That’s completely awesome (sauce). SORRY!
Aaah, so very sorry. I just couldn’t help it.
Anywho, besides the above treats, one item that stood out on many military members lists would be the handwritten letter, which…leads me to my next section!
The act of sending a real-life, bona fide letter.
2) Write a Letter to the Service Members
There’s nothing quite like a good, old-fashioned handwritten letter. I don’t know of a single person who doesn’t love receiving an actual letter in the mail. And members of the armed forces are definitely no exception. In fact, I think it’s safe to say they cherish letters even more than the average bear.
I mean, think about it. For months and months at a time, these people are halfway across the world, and if I had to guess, in a place they don’t want to be to begin with. They’re missing their loved ones, their friends, their comfortable surroundings, not to mention a delicious home-cooked meal…yeah, yeah, yeah, don’t act like that’s not important. 😉
So I’m sure receiving a positive, motivating letter in the mail, regardless of whether they know the sender or not, has got to feel pretty frickin’ good. Getting mail boosts soldiers morale, helps them feel appreciated, ups their confidence, etc. Really, it’s the very least we can do.
Um…Uh…So I, Hmm…What Do I Say in the Letter?
If you have no clue what to say in your letter, you are not alone. Plenty of people are in the same boat as you, otherwise Operation Gratitude wouldn’t have these helpful suggestions to get you started right here.
You also have the option to write the Wounded Warriors still in the process of healing as well as new recruits just starting out on their military journey. Click hereand look towards the bottom of Section I for special instructions on how to go about writing to these groups.
Additionally, if you know of a veteran that would benefit from a letter of thanks, take a look right here. You’ll find the next steps to take under Section II.
3) Send a Care Package to a Military Working Dog
Last, but certainly not least, we have our wonderful military dogs. Just gathering information for this one made me cry off and on because a) I’m a huge baby and b) dogs are just so entirely awesome.
The dog lovers over at BarkPost published an article not too long ago sharing the organizations that send your care packages to the hardworking military dogs worldwide.
What Should I Include in a Working Dog’s Package?
Even though BarkPost listed three organizations, the United States War Dog Association, Inc. seemed to be the only site that had been updated recently. The items needed include cooling collars, flea and tic treatment, human eye drops, human cooling scarves, among lots of other things. For a complete list, please check it out here.
Oh, and the instructions for mailing your working dog care package are kinda specific, so don’t forget to read ‘em! All you have to do is click here, and scroll down towards the bottom.
Chedda, Bread, Bones, Dough…You Know, Money!
In addition to the list mentioned above, monetary donations are also extremely appreciated.
This allows the nonprofit to do such things as find homes for retired military and police dogs, donate wheelchairs and ThunderShirts for the work dog retirees, all while working to provide free health and prescription coverage for the former work dogs. Plus, much more.
See what other remarkable goals the US War Dog Association is accomplishing by heading on over here. And if you’re feeling as inspired as I was, you can make a donation in the same place!
4) Express Your Gratitude Toward Military Members in the U.S.
Now this post gave you a few suggestions on how to express your gratitude toward deployed military members. BUT, the men and women serving right here, right along with our veterans, deserve our thanks just as much! They’ve worked and continue to work unimaginably hard for our country and that needs to be acknowledged.
With that being said, how should we go about doing this? Some Service Members feel “Thank you for your service” sounds forced and awkward, while others appreciate it a lot. And there are plenty of people who’d enjoy for you to ask them about their role in the military. At the same time though, there’s probably just as many who have no desire to discuss it. I guess you just feel out the situation, and make whatever you do or say sincere.
Here are a few other ideas on how to thank a Military Member or Veteran:
- If you spot a Service Member at a restaurant you’re eating at, pick up their check.
- Volunteer at a VA Medical Center. To sign up, visit the VA Voluntary Service right here!
- Be informed. “The American public has an obligation to know what the military does on its behalf.”- Crispin Burke U.S. Army officer
- Hire Veterans.
Alight guys! I hope one of the ideas above stokes your fire. Because I’m not gonna lie, being the cause of lifting another’s spirits, is a pretty incredible feeling. It can easily turn your bad day around.
I dare you to give it a shot.
Wait, wait, wait. I double dog dare you.
…I’m sure that last double dog dare really made it an impossible challenge for you to turn down, huh. 😉
Hey, you! You rock. Wanna connect?
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