Every time I see someone walk by me wearing a military uniform, I just feel so grateful. These folks protect me and help me feel safe. They learn how to stalk and shoot and do amazing amounts of push-ups and sit-ups. They go out in the hot sun in scary foreign countries, covered in head-to-toe heavy clothing and gear, and swelter so my loved ones and I can sleep in air-conditioned comfort each night. Several members of my own family have served in the Armed Forces, and I feel quite grateful to them as well.

Here are some fabulous freebies that say "thank you" through all kinds of hospitality—every bit of which is richly deserved by our selfless and brave military servicepersons and military families.

1. Free wedding gowns for military brides

Brides Across America gives away hundreds of wedding gowns every July and November in their semi-annual "Operation Wedding Gown" nationwide events. To qualify, military brides (which means either military women who are engaged or brides of military men) must meet certain conditions.

Here’s how to apply:

  • Must already be engaged and planning your wedding to take place within the next 18 months.
  • Must have had a deployment (either bride or groom-to-be) within the last five years to qualifying overseas locations.
  • Must not have already had a formal ceremony (even if you have already had a civil ceremony).
  • Must pre-register for the event here.

2. Free annual pass to national park sites nationwide

Active duty military personnel can apply to receive an annual pass (worth $80) absolutely free. Service persons will be named as the passholder, but the whole family can use it.

To qualify, military service persons must follow these steps:

  • Be a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Reserves, or Coast Guard.
  • Show a military ID or Common Access Card.
  • See if the park you want to visit issues passes: Pass Issuance List
  • Visit the park site in person to pick up the pass.
  • Learn more here.

3. Free admission to all Anheuser-Busch amusement parks

This military freebie is worth hundreds of dollars. Under the "Waves of Honor" program, active duty military servicepersons and reservists can receive free admission to Sea World, Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, Sesame Gardens, Water Country USA, and Aquatica San Diego. Ticket holders can take three dependent family members in with them.

Here’s how to apply to get free admission to these parks:

  • Must show a valid active duty military ID.
  • Must be active duty military, an active duty Reservist, National Guardsman, or a drilling Reservist.
  • Learn more here.
  • Apply online for tickets.

4. Free photography sessions for military families

Operation: Love Reunited is a nonprofit organization that eases the stress of separation and reunion by providing free portrait and photo sessions to deployed military couples and families.

You must provide some information to be considered for a session:

  • Provide information about deployment location and length of stay.
  • Provide full name, email address, and verification of military status.
  • Apply for a session.

5. Free grants for military kids

Our Military Kids is an awesome nonprofit chartered to provide financial support to military families so kids can participate in enrichment activities. Eligible activities include music and the arts, sports, tutoring, camps and more.

Here’s how to qualify:

  • Check the list of eligible activities to see if the activity your child wants to participate in is included
  • Make sure the grant amount you are applying for is $500 or less.
  • Provide proper documentation for your branch of the military or Wounded Warrior program.
  • Apply online using the appropriate form here.

6. Free tutoring for military families (adults and kids)

Tutor.com offers free online tutoring for students—adults and kids, active duty military and their family members. The program is funded through the Department of Defense, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, and other sources as well.

Here’s how to sign up:

  • All deployed civilians and military, as well as military service persons and family members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, and Reservists are eligible.
  • Help is available 24/7 online for a variety of student needs, including test preparation, proofreading, and more than 16 subject matter areas.
  • Learn more about eligibility and fill out the appropriate form here.

7. Free lawn care and snow removal for military families

The nonprofit organization Project EverGreen has launched two programs, GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops, specifically to help military families with these essential services while a military family member is deployed. The programs are nationwide and the services are provided free of charge to eligible families.

Here’s how to sign up for each program: