Celebrate Military Family Appreciation Month
Support the families supporting our troops
November 6, 2013 by David Khan
As we celebrate Military Family Appreciation Month, it’s natural to focus on the service member. But the rest of the family deserves our appreciation and attention, too. Coping with the deployment of a loved one can be a challenge for a family. Being the one who is left behind to juggle the job of two people is daunting to stay the least. It’s been described as the feeling of a full-time single parent with a part-time spouse. As harsh as that may sound, those who do it are proud, resourceful, loving and resilient people—so are their family members.
There are plenty of these families in our community who are making sacrifices as the holiday season draws near. For those who are fortunate to live on or near a military base, the support networks are better defined and a helping hand can be as close as a neighbor next door. For others, they may live in more remote areas with less of a military presence or perhaps their loved one was a Reservist who was deployed and they don’t have any of the normal support networks. Regardless of the situation, all could benefit from support of their community and the caring people who are part of it.
So how does one help support a military family? The first thing to remember (as stated before) is military families are proud and resilient and aren’t in need of charity, they welcome assistance with the things they can’t easily take care of themselves or don’t have the resources to handle. For those of us in the community who are neighbors and friends of military families, there are plenty of opportunities to offer a helping hand:
- Offer to watch the kids for couple hours. It’s a thoughtful way to provide a military spouse an opportunity to decompress with a much-needed break.
- Assist with endeavors that their spouse would normally handle such as scouting projects, coaching sports or tutoring.
- Seize the opportunity to take care of the mundane things for the spouse who is left behind such as mowing the lawn, removing snow from the driveway or raking and bagging up the leaves.
- Isolation from their loved ones during the holidays can amplify feelings of depression and anxiety. Include them in your plans during special occasions.
- Involve them in a family fun day trip, such as to an amusement park or invite them to join your family for pizza and game night. It’s a nice gesture to provide some entertainment and excitement for everyone; who doesn’t like to attend an impromptu party?
- Make a meal for the spouse (and their family). It’s an excellent way to show your appreciation for their sacrifices and that you care.
- Be available to listen. This simple act can mean so much to someone who may feel overwhelmed or isolated. Many get offers at the beginning of a long deployment; be sure to follow up with them until their loved one returns home.
Military families are independent, tough and typically great neighbors to have in your community. Seek out those opportunities to show your appreciation for the sacrifices that they and their loved one in the service make for this country. To do so is not only a great way to create long lasting friendships with genuine and patriotic people but is a way everyone can assist in the defense of this country.