When you think of military service, what words come to mind … training, deployments, relocation, freedom, service, and sacrifice? One word that most people overlook is… Family! According to National Child and Traumatic Stress Network “November was first declared as Military Family Month in 1996. Since then, November has been a time to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifices our military families make. They contend with separation from their families and make adjustments to new living situations and communities. Military Families embody strength, resilience, and courage. Care of military families and children sustains our fighting force, and strengthens the health, security, and safety of our nation’s families and communities.”
Help 4-H recognize the Military Family this month. Many of us live in a community with active duty military families, and almost every community has a Guard or Reserve family that you may not realize are service members. These individuals have a different job in the community and serve in times of need.
For those of us without a military background, it can be difficult to know how to be supportive. You may want to meet military family’s needs but don’t know where to begin. Therefore, we have put together a few ideas to help you on your supportive journey.
- Create something decorative to cheer up a veteran’s nursing home room. Picture, Mandala, Bookmark
- If you have a new military family come to your community welcome them to the neighborhood or school. Help them find their way around, give them a list of best places in your community and your phone number in case they need help.
- Leave a care package with family friendly activities and self-care items. Operation Gratitude and Operation Care & Comfort are two organizations that do this for military members.
- Volunteer to babysit or take a child to a practice and give the military parent a break especially if one of the parents is deployed. Just having someone they can trust offer help is a big gift!
- Volunteer your time to provide companionship, serve a meal, assemble holiday packages. Veterans’ advantage has a list of trusted organizations and nonprofits if you don’t have a person in mind.
- Deliver a meal or prepare something that they can take from the freezer and put in the oven or microwave as a quick meal.
- Send a thank you note expressing your appreciation for the family’s support of our Military.
- Offer to cut grass, clean, or help with household chores.
- Offer to run errands – doing a grocery run, picking up dry cleaning, and other errands can ease the burden of juggling responsibilities while a military member is deployed.
- Adopt a family for the holidays. Holidays can be hard when a service member is deployed or doesn’t have family in the local area. Include military families in your holiday plans – holiday dinners, festivals, baking, etc. If you do not have a family locally Soldier Angels can help you to adopt a family.
- Treat a service member or veteran to a holiday stocking filled with items to bring them some cheer. If you don’t have someone in your local area, Soldiers Angels Stockings For Heroes is a national organization doing this. https://soldiersangels.org/holiday-stockings-for-heroes/
- Offer to board a military family’s pet while the family goes on vacation or takes a trip. Dogs on Deployment or PACT Military Foster Program
- Donate to local or national military support programs or gift your airline miles to Hero Miles Program. It supports wounded, injured, and ill service members and/or their families who are undergoing treatment at a medical facility.
We hope you and your family will consider doing something to recognize our military families this month. Also, if you have a family with kids, take them to visit a war memorial and discuss the meaning of service and sacrifice, and that this is something to remind us of the people who served in and died as a result of war. Help them understand the sacrifices of our military families to make our lives better and ensure our basic freedoms. I have been told by friends who are military families that even the “little things” can make a big difference to a military family. Please join us in celebration of National Military Families Month by adopting or supporting a military friend or support organization in 2020.
Written by Jennifer Sims and Paula Davis
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