As a military family, you face a unique set of challenges and stresses; the changes and transitions of military life, long separations, being far away from other family members, and frequent moves are just some of the challenges of military life that require additional support. Here are five key* ways that you can maintain a happy and strong military family.
5 Ways to Thank a Military Family
Whether you decide to thank a veteran, active service member, or family member this Veteran’s Day is completely up to you. As the wife of a soldier, I can tell you that being part of the military is not simply a career choice but a way a life. It is a choice that we recommit to each and every day, and like all choices there are both benefits and challenges. Genuine gratitude from others for the sacrifices that military families make is greatly appreciated but never required.
During my husband’s nineteen-year career he has been lucky to receive displays of gratitude from strangers and friends alike. Over the years, I’ve also felt the love in big and small ways both when he was home and during his deployments.
Here are the most helpful ways our family has been thanked:
- Nothing is better than a genuine thank you. My husband rarely wears his uniform in civilian places so if you catch him at dinner with it on it’s usually because he’s been away for most of the week and we are meeting him for a quick dinner before he’s back to work. In those moments, the stranger who stops at our table to shake his hand and to thank me and our daughter is our hero. This small gesture makes all the sacrifices seem worthwhile.
- Small gifts are best. You don’t have to spend a dime on thanking military families! If you feel so inclined please keep the gifts small. Everyone in the military is paid for the work they do. Buying a cup of coffee for a soldier is much preferable to an extravagant gesture. With that being said, there are many military family support organizations, such as Operation Homefront, who do great work with military families and could use your generosity.
- Being patient and kind. I’d like to thank the people in the grocery store line who were OK with me taking a phone call from my husband while he was in Afghanistan. Thank you for understanding how important those precious minutes on the phone were for my family. Also, thank you to my daughter’s school, for allowing me to park in the teacher’s lot so I could give my daughter the support she needed when her heart was heavy with missing her dad.
- Be a good neighbor. I really couldn’t list all of the amazing and thoughtful things my neighbors have done for my family over the years. Between helping me shovel snow when my husband is working the emergency response during a blizzard, cleaning out the storm gutters while he was deployed, and breaking into my house (with permission) to make sure my stressed and scatterbrained self didn't leave the iron plugged in, their steady support has made all the difference in the world.
- Recognize when someone has reached their limit and offer to help. Raising kids is tough and doing so while your partner is frequently away seems impossible sometimes. (Single parents, how do you do it?!) I’ve been fortunate enough to have times when a friend stepped in and offered to take my daughter for an afternoon when they could see I was at my limit. This gives me an opportunity to asses my stress, as sometimes I don’t even realize how frazzled I am feeling, and to take some time to get it back together.
As a military family, we’ve experienced the joys and challenges that this lifestyle has afforded us. The impact of the support we’ve received over the years cannot be measured. But, we know we are greater and stronger for each act of kindness we’ve received. Thank you!