Ways the community can help and support their local military members and families
Staff Sergeant Mike Scherbel, recruiter with the Wyoming Army National Guard, sat down with SVI to discuss how the community can support military members and their families as Veterans Day is observed this week.
He says one of the best perks about serving in the National Guard is the majority of soldiers get to serve in the community they grew up in.
“So, it’s a tight-knit group in your unit, in your company, and in your community,” Scherbel said. “Hopefully everybody as the ability to serve the people that are around them.”
He says that community feeling can extend into all branches, but with the Guard it likely is where you were raised.
He says soldiers do appreciate the many people who thank them for their service, but he wants to remind everyone they are not the only ones serving. The families of the soldiers play a vital part.
“If you gave them (the families) a big thanks for what they do as well, that goes miles with people,” Scherbel said. “Because it’s difficult to be related to someone who happens to be serving at the time, especially if they are away from home.”
He says one thing that is helpful for the soldiers is called Military One Source. It is many resources and benefits these soldiers can tap into. He says these are things like financial advice, counseling, among many other items. Community members can reach out to this group to see how they may be able to help here as well.
He says nother important way locals can help is through a program called The Family Readiness Group. This is localized around each company.
“They’re strictly donation based,” Scherbel said. “They come in and provide extra meals for soldiers, they’ll provide Christmas gifts and things around holidays and/or birthdays.
“A lot of their programs extend down to children to finding ways to take maybe music lessons. I know my son got help learning how to play drums back when I was deployed in 2012 and 13.”
He says this group loves volunteers. You can reach out by going to their website here.
He says one thing people can do is if you personally know a service member who is deployed, giving their spouse a break if they have young children.
“We all love our children,” Scherbel said. “I just know that sometimes having a break from our kids we love so much can be that rejuvenating force that we need to get through another week.”
If they do not have children, he says you can donate items that are used on a regular basis such as food.
He also says the Wyoming National Guard is one of the smallest in the country. He hopes no one feels like they cannot approach a soldier.
“Some of us are well known to have smug looks on our face from walking around the day we don’t carry a smile,” Scherbel said. “But for the most part we are all pretty nice and approachable.
“We love to tell stories and we love to hear from people in our community.”
He says they all love to serve those around them and it is the reason they do what they do.