This is a topic near and dear to me. I have several brothers-in-law who currently serve in the military. Following The Frugal Travel Guy’s tradition, I ask that you consider how you could donate to help our military personnel and their families. We have all saved tons of money through travel hacking. It would be nice to give some of what we saved to help out people who have served our country and allowed us the freedoms we enjoy. There are so many ways you can help. Here are a few suggestions:
- Donate money - As the topic of this post says, you can donate to the USO through 11/11/11 and American Airlines will give you 15 miles per dollar you donate (instead of the usual 10). Here is the link. Not only is this a great cause, but it can also help top off your account and extend the life of your miles.
- Send a care package – There are many organizations you can donate the care package through. When my brother-in-law was over in Iraq, my sister sent us a list of items they would like. The list included simple things like toiletries, food, and magazines. It also included video games, which I had never thought about before. You could either contact a local base and find out what the troops need or you check out Military.com for a list of sites.
- Buy a drink or meal for military personnel when you see them out - I love this idea. When you travel, I’m sure you see military personnel in the airport. Stop them, ask them if you can buy them a drink, snack, meal, or book, and thank them for their service. If you prefer to be more anonymous, if you see military personnel at a restaurant, ask the waiter/waitress if you can pay their bill.
- If you’re in first class, consider giving your seat to a serviceman/servicewomen - On our last trip to Hawaii, I was lucky enough to actually see someone do this. We were traveling from Los Angeles to Hawaii, which we all know is a long flight. It was a late evening flight, so I’m sure most people were going to sleep for a lot of it. And being in first class would definitely help. We were sitting near the back of the plane and there was a serviceman across the aisle from us. Before the plane took off, the flight attendant went to the serviceman and told him that someone if first class was giving up her seat so he could sit there. It was one of the much touching things I had ever seen. He was so grateful. As he went to the front of the plane, everyone was clapping and thanking him for his service. And when the woman from first class came back, everyone was clapping for her. The flight attendants and the pilot personally thanked her. Her response was that it was the right thing to do. The flight attendant told her that he almost never sees it happen. He said that she could have whatever she wanted during the flight. They served her everything that she would have received in first class. I was honored to see such kindness on our flight.
- Don’t forget the families – Imagine if your spouse had to leave for a year and you knew they were going to be in harms way for that year. Imagine how hard that would be on you and your family. Think of how much the service person would miss that year. The amount that the families give up to support our troops is unbelievable to me. Don’t forget them. If you know someone whose spouse is overseas, ask them how you can help. Offer to babysit so they can get some much needed alone time. Offer to bring food over. Offer to help them drive their kids to events. Be there to listen.
As we approach Veteran’s Day, I want to say thank you to all of those who have served our country and the families who supported them.