November is Military Family Appreciation Month
Imagine a normal day. You wake up, grumble about not having enough sleep, and reluctantly get out of bed. Today your day is routinely filled with work, errands, and other ordinary tasks. It’s nothing you would consider special.
Between grocery shopping and getting the oil changed in your car, you have a laundry list of things to accomplish and Junior has a soccer game tonight. And that’s all before you have a chance to get dinner on the table.
A typical day for us is filled with seemingly mundane tasks that really are quite amazing when you compare to what other families - across the country, across town, across the street - are going through.
I’m talking about military families.
I’m talking about the families that live through all those mundane tasks but have much higher hurdles to clear. Each situation is different but they all hold a common thread; a spouse in the military.
When a serviceman or woman is deployed their spouse has to keep things together while they are away. They pick up the reins for every imaginable task. Household chores, wiping noses, paying bills, playing with the kids, vehicle maintenance…. every last project falls squarely on their shoulders.
In 2012, military families across America, more than 900,000 children experienced the deployment of one or both parents multiple times.
When the a military member is not deployed, their spouse is subject to the schedule given to them; countless hours of PT, missions, and all the military work involved. In some cases, the spouse is forced to leave their job - reducing their household income - due to relocating, having children, no childcare, and other reasons.
Military families (also known as "dependents") endure quite a bit of moving, too. Transferring from base to base can raise lots of challenges. Each new place requires learning the area, finding and making new friends, and countless other adjustments. Their lives are filled with change and uncertainty. And if there are children involved (usually there are), it creates instability sometimes leaving them feeling insecure.
A 2012 demographics report states active duty members with children shows 42.4% of those children are between the ages of birth and 5 years old.
Military family members are faced with bittersweet moments too. Junior takes his first step and they can’t revel in the moment like you and I could. The excitement and thrill of this new feat can easily be followed up with a longing for the service member missing from the moment. And we’re not even talking about holidays.
Dependents are the built-in support system for our military members. They offer the connection to home, offering their love and a letter right when the troops need it most. But it doesn’t stop there, military family members are there when those in service returns from deployment. They are the ones who help pick up the pieces. Like a behind-the-scenes crew, trying to clean up the mess and sometimes at a loss as to what they can do.
Military families are the backbone of this country.
They are constantly adjusting to someone else’s schedule and agenda, they pick up and move at a moments notice. And often they sleep in a half empty bed with a cold, vacant spot waiting for they deployed. Military spouses pick up every last toy, fold every last sock, and wipe every tear. They do whatever needs to be done and often they do it alone.
When I think of military families I think of strength, resiliency, and courage. I think of patience and an undying support system.
I also think of the heartache and sacrifices they make. Not an easy thing to do. Friends are often hard to find and keep. And most often relatives live far away - so I have to ask, who supports them.
During Military Family Appreciation Month, I want you to look beyond feeling gratitude for the mundane task you need to get done. I want you to reach further than recognizing the ability to lay your head down at night feeling utterly safe.
I want you to look at the people who support our military on every level imaginable.
Make an effort to show your appreciation for military family members. It might come in the form of dropping off a casserole, helping them plan a budget, fix a painted shut window, getting them a massage, or offering to take their kids for a few hours. Look at the many ways you can help out and DO it.
So, in honor of Military Family Appreciation Month, we’d like to say thank you to all the military families who are on the front lines of supporting the men and women who protect us.