I’ve spent most of the past three months in and out of airports. I don’t know why, but it seems everywhere I turned, I saw men and women in uniform. While it was obvious that a lot were coming home, a significant number were headed away from home.
At one busy airport, I decided to grab something hot at my favorite coffee shop. A young man in army fatigues stood in the line in front of me. The barista asked if he was on his way home and the man shook his head. “I’m rejoining my unit, and we’re headed to Afghanistan.”
My heart contracted at his words. He didn’t look old enough to go to war. Without a second thought, I put my hand on his arm and handed my credit card to the clerk. “Please let me get that for you. I want to say thank you.”
“Oh no ma’am.” He shook his head, his freckles standing out against the blush that colored his cheeks. “I can’t let you do that. I’ve got it.”
“Please. My son spent four years in the Marine Corps. I know how much it meant to him when someone did this for him. It’s my way of paying it forward.”
To my surprise, I saw a glint of moisture in his blue eyes. “I really appreciate it. This will be my first deployment.”
On an impulse I gave him a hug and told him I’d be praying for him. The hug he gave in returned almost took my breath away.
We got our coffee and headed separate ways, but that young man’s face stayed with me. It only took a moment of my time and a few dollars to let him know someone cared about the sacrifice he was making.
Because I’ve had a son in the military, I’m always looking for ways to give back to our servicemen and women. The way we show our appreciation doesn’t have to be big–a cup of coffee or just a simple “thank you” means the world to them.
When I learned about #GivingTuesday–the first Tuesday in December, my mind immediately jumped to ways to reach out to those serving in our military. It means so much and costs us so little. Here are just a few things you can do:
Get the address of a soldier from your community and ship a care package to them for Christmas.
Visit Operation Gratitude and take part in one of their many programs to support our military men and women.
Contact a local Blue Star Mothers chapter and make a donation of items to send to a soldier or a monetary gift.
I love to share stories of how others have reached out to our military. Be sure to leave yours in the comments section below.