After 9/11, this great country of ours rallied behind the armed forces. Military men and women were stopped in airports, and folks gave up their first class seats for uniformed service members.
The memories are still fresh in my mind and I knew at the time that something special was happening in our country.
I knew what a difference it made to men and women in uniform. I saw their eyes light up as people stopped them. Friends of mine who have no affiliation with the military told me they looked for military while traveling so they could buy their meal in airport restaurants. They loved doing it and wanted no recognition from the people they were honoring at the time.
The Department of Defense looked to catalog the many organizations who were stepping up to support us. A compilation of Veteran Service Organizations called America Supports You was distributed far and wide to military organizations and local military community leaders. It was a handy tool and really helped citizens figure out which philanthropy they might support; hopefully their generosity would make it to the most needy people.
But America Supports You went away several years later because there was just no way to properly vet the thousands of organizations popping up all around the country. All of these military charities were created with the very best of intentions and by fine Americans, but I must be honest:
Some organizations are just better than others.
Much has changed since 9/11 and yet much remains the same. Our service men and women are still deploying and many are still in harm’s way. The world is still a very dangerous place and these brave individuals and their families still need and appreciate our support.
What has changed is the fact that in many ways, the wonderful support we received early on from American people has slightly diminished.
So instead of focusing on what the American people are not doing for you or your service member, why don’t you reach out and connect with a military charity and ask what you can do?
Our country is a great place. Much has happened in the past year to distract people from the brave men and women quietly serving around the world. So take it upon yourself to pause and reflect on all the good things this country has given you. Reflect on the goodness you see every single day in your schools, in your neighborhood, and in your country.
Join one of those groups doing good things for our military and doing good things in your local community. You will also show them, one person at a time, the face of our own military community. I see beautiful faces every single day as I look out and view military families today. I see goodness, kindness, professionalism, patriotism and integrity. Give the gift of yourself to these military charities and they will continue to give back to all of us. Let them see the same qualities I have the privilege to see every single day.