“Our military would not be the greatest in the world without the strength and support of the loved ones who stand alongside our men and women in uniform,” said President Obama in a proclamation for Military Family Appreciation Month, celebrated each November in recognition of the strength and sacrifice of military families across the nation. The challenges that military families face can be intense: frequent relocation, separation from loved ones and reintegration back into civilian life. However, military families also have unique qualities that make them ideal civic leaders, leveraging their skills and determination to engage in meaningful service in their communities.
Points of Light, in collaboration with AmeriCorps, partners with and equips veterans and military families to be volunteer leaders in their communities through Frontline Families. Participating in this program, volunteers learn how to identify community needs, fundraise, recruit volunteers, and design and execute service projects. This program, which is now in its second year, shows veterans, active-duty military members and their families how to take their skills and abilities and turn them into a force for good in their own communities.
Across the country, Frontline Families are working in collaboration with other community groups to make an impact. By partnering with groups such as the Salvation Army, The Mission Continues, local schools, and their city government, Frontline Families volunteers are able to successfully take action for the causes they care about. Military families have helped lead more than 100 unique service projects building community gardens, gathering clothes for donation, and mentoring youth – engaging more than 4,000 volunteers since the launch of the program in November 2015.
Given their unique situation, these families are often the best ones to identify and address the needs of veterans in their communities. After a clothing drive led by a military family in Los Angeles, volunteers were able to provide a homeless veteran with a week’s worth of new clothes and a pair of new sneakers. In recognition of the 9/11 Day of Service this year, Frontline Families volunteers partnered with the American Red Cross of North Georgia to put on a service project supporting female homeless veterans by connecting them with local resources for housing and employment. Sometimes supporting veterans is as simple as getting them involved in volunteer service, like the Frontline Families members who coordinated with Pittsburgh Cares to engage 78 volunteers, including veterans, in the revitalization of a local park.
“The completed park revitalization benefits the entire neighborhood. Veterans felt they connected directly with the children during the project. The children were excited to learn new skills and see what a difference just a little work can make on a park,” said Frontline Families Corps Member Danielle Frank, who served with Pittsburgh Cares during the first year of the program.
These are just a few of the ways that military families are giving back, supporting veterans and the larger community. And as we celebrate the strength of military families and their contributions to communities nationwide, here are a few ways to say thank you and give back through service: