Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 3:46 am | Fair 57º


Tom Purcell: For Memorial Day, Serving Those Who Serve Us

Every Memorial Day, we remember those who died during active military service. But the day gives us a special opportunity to serve those who serve us.

According to the Veterans Affairs Department, nearly 42 million American men and women have served during wartime. Nearly 1.2 million died while serving. Nearly 1.5 million were wounded.

Since 9/11, nearly 7,000 U.S. service members have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 50,000 have been wounded — many have debilitating injuries and mental challenges that have changed their lives forever.

We may debate the rightness or wrongness of various engagements, but we know that freedom comes at a steep price — and we honor those who have secured it for us.

But we can do more. We can serve them back.

“There are many small things people can do that can make a world of difference,” said Jerry Newberry, assistant adjutant general at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

Such as assisting the family of a service member who has been deployed.

“Family members go through a long period of wondering, worrying and waiting,” Newberry said. “But they still need to deal with the car breaking down, a child getting sick, a death in the family.

“If you know of such families, reach out to them.”

Or write an email or letter. The troops — particularly those recuperating in military hospitals — love receiving emails, letters and care packages. You can do so at

Donate time. Your local Veterans Affairs office, VFW and other legitimate organizations are in desperate need of volunteers.

Organize a toy drive for children of deployed soldiers. Support the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. Provide gift cards to troops through

Donate money. You can give to a variety of needed services for military members — or support the American Red Cross to provide basic necessities to service members in military hospitals. Click here to make an online donation through the VFW.

Lori Felix at offers additional suggestions that are simple and inexpensive. One is to volunteer to place flags on the grave sites of fallen servicemen and women. Your local American Legion or VFW will have the details.

Felix writes that holiday weekends can be challenging times for those who are serving away from home. She suggests contacting the community relations office at your local military base to invite a service member or two to dinner.

Or do something kind for a wounded vet. The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has a Facebook page that provides inspiration and ideas for brightening a wounded vet’s day.

CNN offers some great suggestions.

Some disabled veterans are unable to drive. You can volunteer to give them a ride to their medical appointments at (Disabled American Veterans).

You can donate your frequent flyer miles so that family members can travel to the bedside of a hospitalized service member. That can be done through the Fisher House Foundation’s Hero Miles Program.

CNN reports that more than a third of the men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan “have or will experience post-traumatic stress disorder.” The Puppies Behind Bars program trains companion dogs for veterans with PTSD. Click here to sponsor a dog.

Hey, Memorial Day is upon us. What better time to serve the men and women who have served, or are serving, us?

Tom Purcell, author of Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood and Wicked Is the Whiskey: A Sean McClanahan Mystery, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist, syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter: @PurcellTom. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >