Contributed by Tiffany Silverberg
Military families face a diverse set of circumstances which stem from a common core of demands put on them. Depending on, location, number of children, ages of children, and other factors, the demands of separation and relocation may bring more or less stress, but one thing remains the same: All military families in the midst of difficult situations or transitions could use the support of their community. Sometimes the simplest tasks speak volumes to your appreciation and recognition of the demands placed on a military family. Whether you live in a community full of military families or just happen to have an active duty neighbor, you may be looking for ways to help. If you aren’t sure where to begin or don’t know how to ask, here are a few ideas to get you started serving those who serve.
Deployment times are often the first thing we think of when we consider helping military families. It’s one of the times a military family will be most grateful and deserving. Deployments put tremendous stress on the service member, spouse, and children. Long separations mean additional responsibilities at home. You can help show support to military families through all stages of deployment, from the beginning days to homecoming, by volunteering to do some of those additional responsibilities. Mowing the lawn, hauling trash cans to the curb every week, or raking leaves may seem like small tasks, but can spare a spouse a headache or two during the stresses of deployment. Bringing over meals or a special baked treat can be very meaningful. Little acts of kindness remind military families that you are thinking of them. If you are in a large military community, you could band together with other businesses and organizations to show support to military families. Host a special event, such as a concert in the park or movie under the stars for military families.
Another very stressful time for military families is moving. Whether they receive orders to another the state, across the country, or around the world, military service members and their families often find themselves in new communities, climates, and cultures. The best thing you can do is be welcoming. If a military family moves into your neighborhood, stop by with muffins and a smile. If a military family is moving away from your neighborhood, offer to watch the kids at the park or otherwise keep them occupied so the parents can deal with the logistics on move day. If you live in a community with a lot of service members, meaning a lot of moving in and out, you may want to work with organizations and businesses to put together a welcome packet complete with maps, restaurant suggestions, and ideas for what to do in the area. Help military families feel at home quickly in your town by making it easy to get to know the area.
Whether military families are facing deployments and moves or not, military life can feel isolating or lonely. Military families often live far from their extended families, can be separated from the service member for long periods, or be new to an area. Holidays are an ideal time to extend a hand of friendship. Invite them to special events in the area or just over for dinner. Deliver a gift or just a note of thanks. The best way to show support is to recognize military families – at Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, or any time – by offering a helping hand.