There are tons of free services for military families and rightfully so. Yet, without knowing they exist, many struggling military families aren’t taking advantage of these lucrative deals.
Here, we’re talking about military families’ free services including:
- Free Christmas trees
- Free baby stuff
- Free furniture and appliances
- Free holiday meals
- Free summer camp
- Free daycare
Hopefully, this list will give you a little more insight into what’s available for you as a military family so you can make sure to use these programs to the fullest.
Free Christmas Trees for Military Families
Being away from loved ones during Christmas can be incredibly difficult. For military service members deployed overseas, it can be hard to be so far from everything familiar. For military spouses and families, it can be just as hard feeling the holiday spirit with your partner so far away.
As a program of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, Trees for Troops started in 2005. In the beginning, live Christmas trees were sent to the deployed troops as reminders of home and were an effective way of lifting their spirits.
Then, with more funding, Trees for Troops were able to start providing free Christmas trees for military families. The trees are donated to the base and can be picked up on the first weekend of December each year and make the holidays for military families a little more bearable.
Find out more about Trees for Troops.
Free Baby Stuff for Military Families
Caring for a child is a lot of work and most people would agree that it’s the toughest job in the world. Plus, things can quickly get expensive. Top that with potentially being far away from your hometown and far away from your partner as a military spouse, and things can get even tougher.
Luckily, one of the free services for military families come from a few organizations out there that are ready to help military families with free baby stuff.
Qualified military families can get free baby showers full of support, prizes, celebration, and gifts, especially to those who don’t have as much support. Free baby showers for military families are offered by the following organizations:
● Operation Baby Shower
● Operation Shower
● Star Spangled Babies
● Operation Help a Hero
● Operation Showers of Appreciation
● The USO’s Special Delivery Program
If you’re a Navy or Marine family, you’ll get a free Junior Sea Bag filled with free baby stuff after you complete the Navy’s Budget for Baby financial planning course.
You can receive care packages full of baby goodies from Soldiers Angel’s Baby Brigade if you register your family and meet the qualifications which are 1) a parent is deployed or you’re an active duty female service member and 2) you’re expecting a child or have a child under 12 months.
Baby carriers, wraps, and slings are super helpful for busy parents but can often be expensive and unrealistic in the budget. The Carrying On Project does work to help struggling military families by making carrying little ones a little easier. Simply fill out their form and the project will do its best to help you out.
Make sure to use your TRICARE benefits as well. Breast pumps and breastfeeding counseling are only some of the free things you can get through your TRICARE benefits, so be sure you’re taking advantage of them.
For a breast pump, you just need a valid prescription and to fill out your information. Pick the breast pump you’d like and then register for 1 Natural Way’s program that sends you free accessories each month.
As for breastfeeding counselling, you can have access to up to six specialist sessions under most TRICARE as well as your hospital stay and newborn check-ups.
Free Furniture for Military Families
As far as free furniture for military families go, they can be a little case by case. On most military bases, you’ll be able to use the thrift store for military families and go to on-post garage sales that are limited to military families.
These are both great benefits to living on base and can lead to great savings on furniture and appliances. On some bases, the local Rotary Club collects furniture and appliances from local stores that are then donated to military families in the area.
Free Turkey for Military Families
Operation Homefront operates a program called Holiday Meals for Military. In a little over a decade, the program has over 20 donors and has provided meal kits complete with turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and vegetables to over 90,000 military families.
Free Summer Camp for Military Families
When kids are out of school, most parents still have to work. Yet, the idea of summer camp just seems like an expensive alternative that many military families can’t swallow. The good news is, there are many summer camp options that are available free or hugely discounted for military children.
Some of these summer camps include:
- Air Force Reserve/Air National Guard Teen Leadership Summit: Week-long camp for teens who are dependents of Air Force or Air Reserve military members ages 14-18; all expenses paid, transportation costs not included
- American Wanderer Summer Camp: Apply for the scholarship for a two-week-long camp for kids ages 11-17 who are dependents of military members or veterans; Camp-goers will explore America’s National Parks.
- ASYMCA: Offers year-round camps for junior enlisted families either free or at a low cost
- Camp Corral: Free one-week camp for kids of military members ages 8 to 15 with priority given to children of wounded, disabled, or fallen soldiers.
- Military Teen Adventure Camp: Taking place throughout the country at little to no cost for military teens ages 14 to 18.
Operation Purple Camp: Free one-week camp for military kids offered by the National Military Family Association.
Free Daycare for Military Families
Finding affordable daycare can be a huge stressor for military families. In some cases you can find free daycare for military children and other times you can receive financial assistance to help with daycare fees.
The Child Care Aware program has different stipulations in each branch of the military. So, if you’re looking into daycare fee assistance programs, you’ll need to read more about the ins and outs of the program for your specific branch on their website.
There’s also what’s called the Military Child Development Program. It’s overseen by the Department of Defense but again, each branch has their own. Each Military Child Development Program offers three options:
- Child Development Centers: Provides care to children from six weeks to 12 years. Fees are on a sliding scale and waitlists are common.
- Family Child Care Homes: Essentially in-home daycare centers for children up to age 12. More flexible and open during non-traditional hours.
- School-Age Programs: This kind of care provides a place for kids ages 6 to 12 to go before and/or after school. Most of these programs are offered to military families through civilian organizations.
Overall, if you do a little research, you’ll find that free services for military families (or low-cost options) are available for all their needs. They give so much to the country as a whole and deserve to be taken care of in times of need. If you’re a military family that’s struggling, do as much as you can to reach out to as many organizations as possible. They’re there for you and they’re there to help.