Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Resources for a Military Family

As a military spouse, I know just how stressful deployments can be on the whole family. My husband is currently on his first deployment and we are almost to the end (yay!!). When he first left, we were all struggling trying to come up with anything we could to bring a smile to our faces. Financially, we cannot afford much and since I was pregnant when he left (our baby was just born a couple months ago and my husband was able to "be there" via Skype) I could not do all of the projects that I had planned on so I looked up resources and freebies from non-profit organizations that could help us out. Below are a few programs that I came up with; there are resources for each and every family member. I have included here three resources for each category; for a full list of organizations, freebies, and resources (downloadable books, how to save money on shipping, etc.) see the link at the end of the post. Not a military family? If you like to make donations or know a military family, share this list and see where you can make donations to our troops and their families!

For the Soldier

  • soldiers-veterans-day-parad
  • Any Soldier: This resource sends packages to deployed troops NOT individuals. To qualify, you must be familiar with their Any Soldier concept in passing on the packages to troops that get little to no mail AND be Active Duty U.S. Military (of Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy, includes National Guard and Reservists on Active Duty) AND be stationed outside of the US AND have at least 4 months left in the country or on ship. You cannot apply until you are in the country. See the page for more details.
  • This resource provides support and packages (from sponsoring families) to "adopted" military families before, during, and after deployments. Also known as H.E.R.O.E.S. Care. To register for support, go here.
  • HeroBox: This resource sends care packages to deployed military and tries to fulfill items requested in the hero's profile. You can register an entire unit for occasional bulk shipments as well as individuals for smaller, personal packages. HeroBox suggests you not only register your unit, but also each individual.
  • Operation Hi Honey (Operation Hi Mom): This resource from Canvas On Demand allows deployed men and women to send a free 16"x20" PixelPainted canvas print of a favorite photo to their spouses for their anniversaries or to their moms for Mother's Day. Recipients are chosen weekly at random from applicants. Be sure to apply at least 6 weeks before the event.

For the Spouse

  • AF Ball 2
  • Full Circle Home: This resource allows deployed service members to send home special care packages to their wives and mothers for Christmas and Mother's Day to show them they are loved and supported. Package requests are limited. These boxes include hand written notes, pampering products and more!
  • Support Military Spouses: This resource gives Shoeboxes full of donated goodies to military spouses of active duty military. My friend and I just got one each when our husbands deployed and it was such a blessing. It was given to our husbands to give to us form the readiness center on our base. My box included things like encouraging cards, a New Testament, earrings, body wash, a free cookie from Chick-Fil-A and more! They also provide Pampering Packs and Caring Cards as well as devotionals, financial help and occupational opportunities.
  • Tiny Tots: This brand new resource from the USO is currently available at bases in Southwest Asia (Afghanistan and Kuwait) upon request. It allows service members to send a "Welcome Baby" package home to their wife and infant. My husband and I were one of the first recipients of this wonderful program and found it such a blessing when a package arrived at my doorstep with USO baby gear and some baby essentials.

For the Kids

united through reading book one harvest

  • A Story Before Bed: This resource allows the deployed or deploying parent to record a free digital book from selected titles for their children.
  • Sweet Dreams Picture Pillow Project: This resource sends pillow cases with a deployed mommy or daddy's picture on it to children missing a parent. To qualify, one active duty parent must be deployed and away from home for over 3 months.
  • United Through Reading: This resource from the USO allows deployed parents to record themselves reading a children's book onto a DVD which is sent to their kids. This program is only available at certain locations (listed here) but you can request the USO bring the program to another location not listed, but they recommend you send the request at least a few months prior to the deployment.

For the Family


  • Build-a-Sign: This resource provides families of deployed troops with free "Welcome Home" banners, jumbo cards and yard signs to show your support for your loved one.
  • HeartsApart: This resource provides free pre-deployment photos and newborn photos (to those whose deployed member cannot be home for the birth due to military obligations.) Military servicemen and women receive portraits printed on bi-folded waterproof and durable cards that they can carry with them. The family will receive a DVD with the session and rights to the photos.
  • Everyone Serves: This is a free e-book that helps military families and their friends understand deployment and reintegration.

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I am an Air Force wife, mother of two boys, and a blogger! I love to share crafts, recipes, teaching and parenting tips, product reviews, giveaways, military resources and more! Check out my site and the full list of deployment freebies and resources on my blog Arts & Crackers.

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