12 Days of Wishbook, Day 12: Help Welcome Our Heroes Home

A welcome home at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. USO photo by Michael Clifton

A welcome home at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. USO photo by Michael Clifton

Day 12 of Wishbook is about coming home.

While many of you will go home to spend the holidays with your families, thousands of our troops won’t have the same luxury. However, when their missions are complete and they do return, the USO is there to make sure they know their sacrifice was appreciated.

In many cases, that means a hug from a dedicated volunteer at the airport, cheers from a group of volunteers at an air base tarmac or a small party after a long flight from the other side of the globe. But the USO can pull off some pretty big homecoming surprises, too, like the time we helped a returning soldier surprise his wife on their 20th anniversary, or the time a group of 13 Marines was met with an impromptu welcoming line and first class upgrades for the final leg of their journey.

You can help the USO welcome our troops back the way they deserve with just a few clicks.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 11: A Hero’s Night Out for Wounded Warriors

Day 11 of Wishbook is for a much-needed break.

Our wounded warriors spend their days going through grueling rehab, inside doctor’s offices and navigating red tape associated with their recovery. The USO was there for them when they were at war, and we’re there for them when they’re back home recovering, too. USO outings for wounded troops – whether they’re small trips to dinner or the Salute to Service in Las Vegas (seen above) – are great ways to boost morale, build camaraderie and provide a break from the grind of recovery.

You can give these troops who’ve sacrificed so much for our country the break they need this holiday season with just a few clicks.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 10: Help Troops Send Long Distance Bedtime Stories Back Home

The 10th day of Wishbook is about keeping families together – even if they’re far apart.

The USO and United Through Reading’s Military Program have forged a partnership that lets deployed troops record themselves reading stories to their children back home. The program then sends a copy of the video back to that service member’s family, often in a package that includes a copy of the book so their kids can follow along.

“[My sons] getting that video in the mail was a big boost for my morale and it let me know that the time I spent recording the books was well spent.” – Navy Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup

For just a small donation this holiday season, you can help our troops serving in dangerous destinations virtually tuck their kids in at night.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 9: Showing Appreciation for Military Spouses

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Day nine is about appreciation – spouse appreciation, to be exact.

Service members put themselves at risk for our country every day, but they’re hardly the only ones dedicated to the mission. Military spouses play a huge role in not only taking care of things while their loved ones are deployed, but also by providing a backbone of support and care during the tough times. To encourage them, the USO hosts spouse appreciation events. It’s everything from low-key center-based events around the globe to larger operations like the USO and What to Expect Foundation’s Special Delivery baby showers - seen in the slideshow above - bringing military moms-to-be together for a few hours of learning, food and fun.

This holiday season, you can help give spouses the extra support they need with just a few clicks.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 8: Supporting the Caregivers of our Wounded Warriors

Day eight of Wishbook is about helping those who help others.

With more than 400,000 troops injured in the last 12 years of war, thousands of military spouses and family members have been called into new roles as caregivers. While their loved ones deal with the lifelong ramifications of injuries sustained supporting their country, these caregivers often navigate a litany of doctor’s appointments and red tape, while also keeping the family in order and many times taking on the role of primary breadwinner.

For all these reasons, we established USO Caregivers Conferences. These daylong getaways – held at locations near military bases in the United States – give caregivers a chance to bond, discuss their daily obstacles and learn from each other while also taking lessons from experts on how to deal with stress, manage expectations and raise a family in what sometimes seems to be an impossible situation.

With just a few clicks, you can help these caregivers on their journey to more fulfilling lives for their families.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 7: Send a Military Child to Camp

A USO/TAPS camp in Boston in 2012 ended with a balloon release. The balloons are released in remembrance of loved ones who died. USO photo by Michael A. Clifton

A USO/TAPS camp in Boston in 2012 ended with a balloon release. The balloons are released in remembrance of loved ones who died. USO photo by Michael A. Clifton

The seventh day of Wishbook is about perspective.

The USO works with several partners throughout the country to send military kids to camp. But these aren’t your run-of-the-mill summer getaways. USO/TAPS Good Grief Camp Outs give children who’ve lost military parents have fun with peers going through the same experience, allowing them to bond and learn to cope. These camps are often held simultaneously with USO/TAPS Survivor Seminars, where parents and other surviving loved ones bond on a different level.

“[These camps are] one of the most meaningful things I’ve done in my career at the USO.” – Robin Crouse, USO Fort Hood director.

It’s pretty easy to make a difference in the lives of these grieving families today. Click here to learn more.