Aiming his finger at me like a gun, my 4-year old pretends to shoot me from the backseat of my car. I honestly have no idea where he learned this. As many young boys, my son is fascinated by war, death, and weapons. I’ve been trying to figure out how to address this issue, and as we prepare to serve the soldiers for our next service project, I’ve been thinking about how I can help him to learn about soldiers, about men and women who fight not out of anger, but to protect and to serve. I think allowing him to meet some men and women in uniform will be really helpful as we continue the conversation. Below are some steps we are taking as we plan this project; I hope they inspire you to serve the soldiers too.
Want to Serve Soldiers in your area?
1. Contact a local base: we live close to Port Hueneme, and we are in the process of finding a point of contact there. After we do this, we will plan a date for our visit, and we will ask about what we can bring that will be most encouraging to the soldiers (cards, cookies, etc.)
2. Make a visit: after talking to our kids extensively, we will visit the base. During our visit, we will try to connect with and encourage as many people as possible. Building relationships is the most important part of service.
3. Send a care package: we are hoping to drop off our packages at the base, but there are several organizations out there that enable civilians to send packages to soldiers overseas. If you can’t make it to a base, invite some friends over for a packing party, and send some goodies abroad. Check out Any Soldier, Give2TheTroops, or Operation Gratitude to get started. These awesome groups have sent countless packages, and their websites are super helpful.
4. Adopt a Soldier: If you get in touch with AdoptaPlatoon, you can adopt a soldier. What an awesome thing to do as a family! When you adopt a soldier, you are committing to encourage an individual service member by sending one card or letter each week as well as one care package each month.
As I mentioned, it is challenging to discuss fighting and war with kids. As usual, I look to books to help me broach difficult topics. Here are a few that I’ve found informative.
Hero Dad: In this book, a boy compares his Dad, a soldier, to a superhero. Reading this book would be a good way to start talking with younger kids about soldiers.
Veterans: Heroes in our Neighborhood: According to Amazon: this book “is an engaging rhyming picture book for readers of all ages that fosters mindfulness of and appreciation for the brave service men and women who are also our family, friends, and neighbors. These are the men and women who bravely served our great country and now humbly serve in our communities.” Sounds great!
US Troops Coming Home: This is an uplifting, poignant video that shows soldiers returning home to their families. I’m planning to show this one to my son before we visit the navy base.
There are men and women all over the world making sacrifices to serve and protect. Let’s all work together to make soldiers feel acknowledged, loved, and supported. If you have any thoughts on this post, or if you have other ideas about how we can show love, please let us know. Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own. Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.