November is "Military Family Appreciation Month". In honor of this, and during this season of thankfulness, why not consider saying a personal "thank you" to a military family for their extraordinary service and sacrifice to our great American heroes. Although, there are probably dozens of reasons to appreciate the spouses, children, parents and extended family members of our men and women in uniform, here are my top seven reasons why we should appreciate and be thankful for our military families - please add your own to the comments:
7. They are tough. Incredibly tough. When their loved ones return home carrying the wounds of war, either physically, mentally or emotionally, their families are there to embrace them. In the case of severe injury, many must give up life as they have known it, along with homes or career, to care for their military loved one full-time. Now that's tough.
6. The military families have a culture of sharing. They lend a hand and help each other. Over and over again, I have seen this, with an office in a military town, the families reach out to one another - always willing to do whatever it takes to help another military family. They stick together.
5. Their resilience. I have personally visited with families where the soldier has been deployed three or four times in the last decade while the spouse remaining at home handles moves, home purchases, career and school changes.
4. Military spouses. A young couple shared this with me as I was handling the financing for their home. He was from Holland and met his military wife while she was serving in Germany. She told him from the start: "If we marry, then you will have to follow me wherever I go - the Air Force will come first...". "WOW" is all I could say. He said "But I loved her and I said 'no problem'". He left his family and his culture to move to the United States and is quite satisifed with this life. Many military spouses give up careers to follow their loved one around the world or hold down the home front during deployments.
3. Military children. Imagine this - they change schools on average of six to eight times over the course of their parent’s military career. They deal with long separations from parents– who aren’t just headed out for a business trip, but for a year in a combat zone. But in the face of all this, they are strong, brave and adaptable. And most understand the reason that their parents serve and even follow in their parents' footsteps. Just recently while visiting with a soldier who was purchasing a home, his twenty year old son walked in - in a military uniform! Like father, like son.
2. Extended family members. We can easily forget about the extended family members who serve too. There are the grandparents who care for the children during deployments, the sisters and brothers who call and send cards and care packages, a host of uncles, aunts and cousins offering their unwavering support.
And the Number 1 reason to be thankful and appreciate our military families:
1. Their service and sacrifice. These families.....may we never forget that they serve this nation also. When I meet a military couple for the first time, I shake hand of the soldier and say "Thank you for serving" and then with his wife and say "Thank YOU for serving him while he is serving us..." . Holidays, births and birthdays, family gatherings - all celebrated without their military loved one. And then the unthinkable happens and they suffer the ultimate sacrifice - the loss of their loved one.
I hope everyone takes a moment to thank a military family this month - or better yet - year-round. Why not do something tangible and give them a helping hand - whether it’s with child care, cooking a meal or helping to mow a lawn. Despite all the challenges, military families persevere and serve as an inspiration to us all. Robert L. Gordon III said it and I agree: "A strong nation is made up of strong families; among the most resilient are our military families."
What are some of YOUR reasons to appreciate and be thankful for our military families?
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