In 1999, Senator and Navy veteran John McCain introduced legislation to recognize Military Appreciation Month. Now every May, communities take time to recognize and honor the military that keeps us safe and the men and women who bravely serve.

Our all-volunteer military makes up a tiny part of our population of nearly 330 million, with just 1.3 million active in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard. They’re based all over the world and perform jobs ranging from pilot to engineer to cook to musician and everything in between.

They give their time, effort, talents, and sometimes their lives to keep our country safe and protect our way of life. It’s only fitting that we honor their service with a month of recognition.

Here are a few things you can do to celebrate Military Appreciation Month:

  1. Say thank you – If you see someone in uniform, thank them for their service. Members of the military should always know their work and sacrifice are appreciated.
  2. Help the families – The stress of service is felt not just by the service member, but by the whole family. Finding a way to connect with a military family is a great way to honor members of the military. Organizations such as Fischer House Foundation, Gary Sinese Foundation, TAPS and Freedom Alliance work with families of service members to meet whatever needs they have, from owning a home to support for injured vets to college scholarships for military children.
  3. Send a care package – Notes and small gifts from home mean so much to those spending time away from their families. You can even put together care packages on a budget! Even if you don’t know anyone who’s deployed, you can partner up with organizations like the USO or Support Our Troops to send pre-made packages with needed items overseas.
  4. Listen to a story – Connect with someone who is serving or has served in the military. Listening to the stories of service members or vets will help you understand their world and bridge the gap between military and civilian life. Veterans’ Day doesn’t have to be the only day to make a connection with those who served!

Take a moment this month to thank our military for all they do!