Memorial Day usually heralds the beginning of summer, and families throughout the U.S. fire up the grills. However, the meaning behind the day can be very somber for those who have lost someone in the line of duty.
This May 31, consider purchasing from one of these brands. They're going out of their way to help veterans, their families, and the families of those lost in conflicts abroad. If consumerism isn't your favorite way to support, here are a few ways to charitably give and support military families this Memorial Day.
Sword and Plough
Returning to the civilian job force can be hard for veterans after deployment. The brand Sword and Plough is working to bridge the civilian-military gap. It makes fashionable bags out of surplus army material (read: sustainable) and employs veterans in every stage of the process, including design, fulfillment, management, and modeling. Co-founder Emily Núñez grew up in a military family and attended the U.S. Army Airborne School, where she launched her business during her senior year. After hearing multiple stories of veterans struggling to find jobs after servicing and attending an inspiring entrepreneurship speech, something clicked, and Sword and Plough was born. Now, it's doing great work helping our servicemen and women find employment as well as supporting the planet with its sustainable business practices.
Oscar Mike Apparel
Our noble servicemen and women put themselves in harm's way for our country, and, unfortunately, not everyone returns unscathed. Oscar Mike Apparel is a clothing brand with its own 501-C non-profit working to help injured veterans stay active (Oscar Mike is military-speak for "on the move"). All of the donations to the foundation and proceeds from apparel sales help veterans get access to an arena of adaptive sports. Everything is 100% American-made, and products come in sizes for both men and women. Donations to the foundation are tax-deductible and an excellent way to help transform the life of an injured vet.
Boss Nation Brands
Not all of our nation's veterans are human. Some of them are brave military service dogs that go right into battle zones with their handlers. Boss Nation Brands provides top-of-the-line pet products that help promote digestive health. The balanced meal solutions are gluten-free, don't use artificial ingredients, non-GMO, and free from preservatives. Boss Nation donates to various charitable organizations that help both humans and animals, including Victory Service Dogs. VSD allows pair disabled veterans and first responders with loving service dogs. The client-focused programming provides affordable pathways to gaining a service animal as well as classes to learn the techniques behind becoming a strong veteran-dog team.
There are so many challenges that face the families of those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Beyond the grief of losing a loved one, suddenly families find themselves in a single-parent home, which can put a massive strain on household budgets. Fallen Patriots is working to alleviate some of those financial stressors by providing college scholarships and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. CEO David Kim lost a fellow infantryman during Operation Just Cause in Panama and worried about his partner's young wife and unborn daughter. He founded Fallen Patriots in 2002 to help Gold Star families gain access to education and help get employment or internships post-college. Their job board posts employment opportunities from around the country with Fallen Patriot's corporate partners.
Gold Star Wives of America
Gold Star Wives of America is a Congressionally-chartered non-profit designed to help military spouses that have lost their partner in the line of duty by providing assistance and much-needed friendship. It helps preserve and enhance benefits for military widows and widowers as well as helping children who have lost a parent move forward with determination and support. There are eight chapters of GSW throughout the U.S., and each one has several regional offices providing support close by. Visit the online marketplace to purchase hats, commemorative coins, and other merchandise because the proceeds continue to support military spouses.
Got Your Back Network
Losing a parent or spouse in the line of duty is an event that many can't even begin to fathom. It's a different kind of grief, and grief can be very isolating. Enter the Got Your Back Network. This non-profit connects families that have lost a loved one in combat so they can grieve and support one another together. It also provides grief counseling and seminars about coping with loss, job training, financial literacy classes, and educational scholarships. It sponsors events that are free of cost to Gold Star families, such as evenings at basketball games and spa days. If you want to volunteer with Got Your Back, simply fill out the volunteer form on their website.