More than 2,000 Michiganders are actively serving in the military today, and 658,469 of our neighbors are veterans, according to the US Department of Veteran Affairs. They deserve our gratitude and support. Here are some simple ways you can express your gratitude this month and throughout the year.

Schedule a Pickup
Spring is an excellent time to sort through your possessions and look for items that are in good condition, but rarely, if ever, get used. In most areas you can easily schedule a pickup online with the Vietnam Veterans of America or Purple Heart.

Send a Message or Package
The USO makes it really easy to send a message to our troops so that they know we are thinking of them and appreciate what they do. You can select a pre-written message or customize your own. While online you can also send a package of comfort food for only $15 or for $25 you can provide phone calls home or help welcome a hero back.

Adopt a Hero or Military Family
Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Homefront Hugs is an organization started by a former US Air Force pilot’s wife who is also the daughter of a Foreign Service and US Army Officer.  They invite people to “adopt” a veteran or military family for at least six months to lend support. If you are unable to make that long of a commitment you can also write letters and cards or donate toward postage to ship packages to deployed troops and wounded warriors.

Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets provide an excellent way to show support for our military. Post messages of appreciation, share stories of military heroes, or add pictures of the heroes in your own family who have served. It’s a great way to demonstrate support and reach a wider audience than your personal circle of connections.

Do something simple like offer to cut the grass or pick up groceries for a neighboring military family whose loved one is deployed. If you don’t know any military families personally is a good place to learn about volunteer opportunities in your area. You can search by interest (e.g. military families or veterans) and location. Michigan is also home to five Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in need of volunteers: VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Battle Creek VA Medical Center, John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit, Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain, and Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw.

All politics aside, it takes a special person to bravely volunteer to serve their nation, and a strong family to stand beside them. They all deserve our support and appreciation for upholding the freedom we so often take for granted, so make a point of saying thanks or pick up the tab for the next brave soul in uniform who crosses your path.

Author: Lisa Diggs

Lisa Diggs is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, business consultant, avid traveler, and founder of The Catalyst Company, LLC, Michigan Positivity Project, and Buy Michigan Now.