Operation Gratitude: Serving Those Who Serve and Paying It Forward

Virtual Volunteers Needed


Next month, Operation Gratitude will celebrate its 18th anniversary. It was on the day that U.S. forces invaded Iraq that Operation Gratitude’s founder Carolyn Blashek first assembled and shipped care packages to soldiers in harm’s way. Since then, more than 2.3 million service members, military families and Veterans have received our care packages.

Operation Gratitude helped more than 600,000 people in 2020

Undeterred by the global pandemic, Operation Gratitude positively impacted 619,000 heroes in 2020, including deployed troops, Veterans, first responders, National Guardsmen, and health care heroes fighting COVID-19. These efforts were bolstered by a partnership with VA, enabling deliveries of care packages to 18,250 doctors and nurses at VA hospitals in 14 states, as well as thousands of Veterans who were homebound and isolated at VA facilities and nursing homes. In total, Operation Gratitude delivered care packages to 55,000 Veterans in all 50 states and DC last year.

As our nation’s longest war continues, we are calling on Americans everywhere to give back in a tangible way to our men and women deployed overseas through our Virtual Volunteerism programs. We are asking volunteers to write letters and handcraft items to be included in the care packages we send on March 19, 2021, in commemoration of our founding. Together, let’s show 18,000 service members deployed around the world how much their service and sacrifice means to us.

Become a #VirtualVolunteer

Over the next five weeks, you can make a difference by knitting or crocheting scarves and hats; handcrafting paracord bracelets or blank greeting cards for troops to send home to their loved ones; and writing personal letters of appreciation and support.

Operation Gratitude is calling on Americans, like you, across the country to participate in our unique, at home #VirtualVolunteerism activities. You can leverage your talent and creativity and provide direct support to hundreds of thousands of frontline responders and military – nationwide and globally – by visiting our website here.

To demonstrate the impact you will make, here is an email we received last month from a deployed service member whose spirits were lifted by one of our holiday care packages:

Dear Operation Gratitude Volunteers and Supporters,

Words can’t express my gratitude for receiving your care package full of kind gifts from the wonderful people of our great country including snacks and handmade items. I just arrived back in the United States after a VERY long COVID year deployed to Africa. Although I cannot be with my family during the holidays and New Year due to quarantining over 3,000 miles away from home, this package and the handwritten letters warm my heart. I will keep this smile for a bit. Thank you for the continued support!


Chief R.P., U.S. Navy

Paying It Forward

Whether you’re a grateful American looking for an opportunity to serve those who serve or a Veteran, you can pay it forward to the men and women who followed in your footsteps. Now is the time to act. In the face of extended deployments, a global pandemic, and concerns for loved ones back home, our deployed troops need your support more than ever.

Join our Virtual Volunteerism movement and give back with Operation Gratitude today!

The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on part of VA. 

Written by Kevin Schmiegel, CEO at Operation Gratitude.


VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/


  1. Taylor    

    Big shout out to the team always standing forward to defend us

  2. Carol L Beers    

    I have question do you have drop off points like in san diego.
    I am 80 years old on social security and can knit n crochet hats n scarfs as all yarn is donated to me, but cannot ship these. I knit n crochet for charity now

  3. Albert Scott    

    They are Our Heros we are proud of all soldier

  4. Kimee Armour    

    Reading this warmed my soul. It will be 30 years ago this July that I received my 1st of several “Any Soldier” letter. I received letters with pictures of yellow ribbons tied to bushes & trees, all thanking me for sacrificing my life to save theirs.
    My nephew spent several years in Iraq, he came home safely, I jumped back in the fire at the front lines of Covid-19 where no one wanted to go & now my son is one of those soldiers giving up his life for all of us. I’m one proud mom and stand proud to support everyone fighting as well.
    Much respect,
    Kimee Armour
    US Navy Retired
    FEMA COVID-19 Front-line Volunteer Nurse
    One Proud Patriot

  5. Shawn Dallo    

    My brothers and sisters from MEDDAC. God I miss them.

  6. Lori Green    

    I am a psychotherapist in private practice. I have been working with Veterans since 1990. I live in gratefulness in all that they have done for all of us. Our men and women put their lives on the line to support us. I show my gratitude by dedicating support to the Veterans for 30 years. I work with them until they trust me, and then I show heartfelt, sincerely expressed, well deserved gratitude and emotional support to overcome the great efforts, difficult incidents, sometimes bodily harm they endured and expression of their courage and protection of us.

  7. michael Thornsberry    

    To the wonderful and selfless “HEROS” fighting on the front lines and behind the scenes, you are truly awesome I know what you go through, because I’ve been there and done that; it is not easy to leave your family and friends in these troubling times fighting a war that others see as senseless, but I see it as protecting us from the evil that is in this world today and a pandemic the “WORLD” has not seen or experienced; since the great war of 1918 with T.B.

    Please be safe on all fronts and God Bless You and Your Family
    Michael V Thornsberry
    United States Air Force Veteran

  8. Mary freeman    

    I sure was hoping that theywere coming home. Still support our people.

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