Soldiers have it quite rough especially when it comes to the holidays because going home is not an option for them.
That also goes for airmen, coast guardsmen, marines, and sailors.
But there is great news!
Most bases have official Adopt A Service Member programs, as well as non-profits. The purpose of these programs is that they help members find local families that are willing to host for the holidays.
Local communities also help organize such a wonderful program. There are many names for these programs, examples being “Adopt A Soldier”, “Host A Marine” and “Adopt An Airman”.
If you are interested in hosting a service member for the holidays, firstly you are amazing for doing so!! And thank you!
And the best way to do that is to reach out to the closest military installation’s MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) office to ask about any holiday program that is available.
You can also Google the terms ‘adopt a service member, Marine, Soldier, or so on + city’ and you will be able to find the local holiday program through that. You may also look for the closest Armed Services USO or YMCA office as well.
However, if you cannot host this year, don’t worry because there are other ways you can help the military community. All you have to do is inquire about ways as any form of help is always appreciated.
But if you do end up hosting, fantastic!
There are things to always keep in mind when you have a service member come to your home for the holidays.
1. Give them a complete tour of your home
Show them where the bathroom is. You want them to feel right at home and to relax. Allow them to warm up, and turn on the TV for them. They may want to watch some kind of sporting event if they choose.
Always make sure you have snacks available upon their arrival, especially if dinner is being served in several hours. If they are tired allow them to nap.
3. Cosy Clothes
Some service members may be in uniform and some may not. Always suggest that they bring extra clothes and shoes while they are visiting, and offer them to make calls to home – always give them their privacy during those times.
4. Being Festive
It is very important that you adhere to military guidelines and standards, but always encourage them to share their holiday traditions and customs. You can take pictures as long as they are alright with it, and if you want to share the pictures on social media, be sure to get their permission first.
5. The Dont’s
There are things to never ever do when hosting, and that is to:
- never offer tobacco or booze
- don’t ask them too many questions at once either as that will be overwhelming (you want your service members to be relaxed, and that will only defeat that purpose)
- never be offended if they don’t want to talk about their job, as they may not be able to due to OPSEC which protects U.S. operations.
Be sure to never make any conversations about you and any military experience of your own, as well as anything political as those kinds of discussions constantly lead to stress. Again, that would only defeat the purpose. Same goes for anything that they could perceive as derogatory. Always put yourself in their shoes.
And last but not least, never worry about being pressured to cook all of their favorite foods. They appreciate the fact that you are having them over more than you probably realize, and will definitely appreciate any kind of home-cooked meal. Be sure to get their contact information so you can follow up with them after they leave.
Finally, thank you for helping your service members whether you host or not!