Patriotism is a term used to describe fierce support or loyalty to a country. While patriotism can be displayed in many different meaningful ways, joining the military is one of the most honorable. Behind every military hero is a military family trying their best to function despite the absence. Fortunately, there are ways to help. Show your patriotism by serving the families of those who serve. Here’s how:
- Take Action
Whether a spouse is deployed, a family has been reassigned to a base in your city, or a newly enlisted cadet is away in boot camp, a helping hand goes a long way.
Below are a few proactive ideas:
- For Deployments:
-Many spouses of military members are forced to assume the role of a single parent during deployment. Responsibilities quickly mount and parenthood can become stressful. Offer to babysit while mom or dad catches up on sleep, runs errands, or takes a mental break.
o Be a Friend
-Deployments can be isolating. This is when friendships matter most. Be a sounding board, a stress reliever and a shoulder to cry on. Don’t forget to add some fun into the mix.
o Do Chores
-Yard work, errands, and daily chores are an extra burden on top of the emotional distress that spouses feel during deployments. Schedule a recurring time to stop by and step up. Be consistent, punctual, and helpful.
- For Reassignments:
o Offer the family a tour of their new city
o Introduce them to your friends to help them feel welcomed and at home in their new surroundings.
o Inform them of “the best”: the best schools, gyms, restaurants, childcare, and other establishments.
- For Boot Camps:
o Send a care package to the family. Family care packages can include spa treatments to relax, self-help books on how to cope with military life, or gift cards that will help ease the transition.
o Send letters. Write a letter of encouragement to the family. Let them know that you admire all they do to support their service member and their country, because families serve too!
o Help the children (younger siblings, nieces/nephews, daughters/sons). Most service members have children who they regularly spend time with. While you can’t (and shouldn’t) replace their role, you can be a representative for them. Be present at the sporting events, birthday parties, and important moments that their hero is unable attend. Bring a small gift from their soldier to spread extra cheer.
- Be Mindful
The emotions and stress levels of military families are understandably elevated during periods of separation. Those who are around them sometimes struggle to find the balance of being supportive, without being intrusive. When dealing with sensitive issues like deployments, it can be difficult to know the right things to do and say. Try following these guidelines:
- Avoid equating deployments with business trips. Military members often face danger, uncertainty, and harsh conditions while away. Their families are in a constant state of worry, and are more than likely dealing with a different type of stress than most civilian families experience during short-term business trips. Remember that it is possible to sympathize without comparison.
- Be selective about the questions you ask. Keep in mind that some information is personal, some topics are sensitive, and timing is everything.
- Give families plenty of space and time to connect before (and after) deployments or assignments. While you may be eager to visit the departing (or returning) service member, his/her family is probably rushing to squeeze in as much quality time as possible. Try to give them a month (before and after) to enjoy the intimate family time that they so desperately need.
- Be Charitable
Don’t fret if you don’t personally know a soldier; you can still help. Visit the charities below to help tend to these wonderful military families:
- Blue Star Families
- Military Families United
- National Military Family Association
- Operation Homefront
- Armed Services YMCA
Military men and women courageously put their lives on the line to protect the country, freedoms and citizens that they love. Their patriotism is not only noble, but also sacrificial. Their service puts a strain on their bodies, their mental health, and the family members they are forced to leave at home. The least we can do it show our patriotism by caring for the families who send their heroes off to care for us.