The Department of Defense announced today that it has teamed with USA Freedom Corps to launch "On The Home Front," a new resource for people seeking to support our troops, their families, and their communities in meaningful ways. President George W. Bush created the USA Freedom Corps Office at the White House to foster a culture of service, citizenship and responsibility. Volunteer resources are available by calling 1 (877) USA-CORPS, or online at http://www.usafreedomcorps.gov.
Although there is a long tradition of writing letters and sending care packages to troops stationed away from home, the general public is urged not to send unsolicited mail, care packages or donations to service members forward deployed. Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S. C. Chu said, "There is nothing better for the morale of our troops than to know that the people back home are taking care of their loved ones and supporting the war effort." To minimize delays and complications in sending support, DoD recommends the following:
Operation Dear Abby. Send e-mail messages to deployed troops of any service from your home state via: http://anyservicemember.navy.mil.
Defend America. Sign an online thank you card for troops at: http://defendamerica.mil/nmam.html.
Operation USO Care Package. Contribute to the purchase of a care package of items forwarded troops such as sunscreen, disposable cameras, prepaid calling cards, and toiletries via: http://www.usocares.org.
Military families may need extra help in meeting basic home and family needs during the deployment of a loved one. There are many ways individuals, organizations, and businesses can offer their time and resources to help. Following are some of the opportunities now available through the USA Freedom Corps' new "On the Home Front" web resource.
Local chapters of the American Legion, American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the USA, Camp Fire USA, National 4-H Council, National Fraternal Congress of America, The Salvation Army, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) of the USA are among leading community service organizations providing ways for volunteers to help local military families. They are working with the National Guard and Reserve units, as well as with military bases, to match volunteers with families that need help in areas such as household repairs, spring cleanings or tutoring and direct those families to businesses and organizations that may be offering free or discounted services.
Volunteers can also help families, including those who own small businesses, with specialized skills like major repairs, financial planning or legal services. Some of these organizations are also helping to take care of children, after school and on the weekends, whose families have a parent or caregiver stationed away from home. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Camp Fire USA, National 4-H Council, and YMCA of the USA are playing important roles in these efforts.
Individuals can also make a difference at home by reaching out to share their time and compassion with veterans to say "thank you" for their service to our country and by volunteering with a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital or other facility.
Community volunteer service helps to replace valued volunteers who have been deployed. Local opportunities for volunteer service such as mentoring a child, teaching someone to read, working in a local police department or serving at a local food shelter can also be found through the USA Freedom Corps' new "On The Home Front" Web site.