In communities all over the world, military families are living a unique lifestyle in order to serve our country alongside their service member. It can be difficult for those not familiar with the military to understand this lifestyle and to figure out their role in helping military families in a time of need.
Everyone has a role to play in supporting military families – not just their friends and neighbors. Employers, educators, community leaders, government leaders, and health care professionals can all help support military families in unique ways.
For more tips and ideas, read the National Military Family Association’s Finding Common Ground: A Toolkit for Communities Supporting Military Families.
Here are some simple ways civilian families can help the military families who are living right in their own communities.
- Hang out: Where appropriate, invite the spouse of a deployed service member to go out to dinner, see a movie, or go to a concert. Getting out of the house is a great stress reliever during a lonely time.
- Be yourself: Look for opportunities to help by matching your own talents and resources with the needs of another.
- Volunteer: Organizations all over the country are helping military families. Whether it is with time, money, or talents, it is the volunteers that keep these much-needed services running. Check out your state volunteer website or use the search engine on Serve.gov.
- Provide a helping hand: When a service member you know is deployed, offer a play date for their kids, run errands, assist with home repair, mow the lawn, cook dinner, or help with anything else that is so much easier to do when there are two parents in the home.
- Show your appreciation: Business owners can offer military discounts for service members and their families.
- Give a taste of home: Bake or cook for single military personnel who are living in the barracks or invite them over for a holiday when they’re stationed away from home.
- Be a friend: Having a spouse deployed is extremely difficult and having a shoulder to lean on eases the hardship.
- Be understanding: Civilians can offer employment opportunities to military spouses and understand that their lifestyle may cause time gaps in a military spouse's resume. It can be hard to establish a career while having to move to a new duty station every few years. Co-workers can rally behind the family of a deployed service member, providing a close-to-home support group.
- Help make a house a home: Organize your neighborhood association to make newly-arrived military families welcome in your community.
- Support education: Make military children feel welcome when they arrive in your children’s schools. When possible, be lenient with tryout dates and admission cut-offs. Recognize their achievements at other schools and find the best fit for them to thrive.
- Be a proud American: Through actions and words, at every opportunity, support the men and women of the military. Never take for granted the individual freedoms these service members work tirelessly to safeguard and defend, often at great personal risk and sacrifice. They do it not only for themselves, but for their family members who support them daily in their patriotic service and privilege. Keep your flag flying high!
* This information was gathered from more than 4,000 military spouses surveyed by the National Military Family Association.
Bailey Bernius is the Public Relations Specialist for the National Military Family Association.