Making Sure Your Help is Helping

On Sunday I watched a piece on CBS Sunday Morning – When Disaster Relief Brings Anything But

It was devastating. One leader in the field had a slideshow of disaster relief disasters; piles and piles of unneeded clothing, warehouses full of unused teddy bears and toys. As someone inclined to help it’s upsetting to see that every little bit doesn’t count, that good intention is far from enough, and it reminded me how important it is to think about how best to direct our urge to help. The inclination to be kind is a spark, a wonderful spark, but to turn it into a healing fire it takes thought and restraint and work.

For me one of the harder areas of philanthropy is supporting our troops. I’ve written letters in support drives, sent scarves in care packages, and I clap and say thank you at airports but it all seems very misdirected.

There was an article in the NY Times last year about that – Please Don’t Thank Me for My Service – The article was wonderfully written and reinforced my instinct that I wasn’t doing enough or doing it quite right.

I’m so excited to go to the Invictus Games!  It’s going to be a fun event and maybe I’ll be able to get some insight into how to help. Sometimes the biggest sticking point is that we need those who need the help to guide us. They know best what they need but sometimes they don’t really know what they need.

I run across vets when I’m crisis counseling. I’ve seen PTSD in real life and what it means to be a military family. But I still feel like I’m missing some key, the answer is still in a code I can’t seem to break. What does “I support our troops” really mean and how can I stop it from feeling like a phrase in a foreign language? How do I make more than a beau geste?

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