National Military Family Appreciation Month: 3 Easy Ways to Support Military Families
Written by Susannah Wruk
November is Military Family Appreciation Month and one of the best ways you can show your appreciation for the military is by supporting military families. But since military family life is unique in its challenges and constantly changing, it can be difficult to know how to help. Here are three helpful tips to support and care for military families this month and beyond.
1. Lend a Helping Hand
Being there for military families and being willing to help is always appreciated. Whether it’s unpacking and getting settled into a new home, juggling household responsibilities and kids while a spouse is deployed or on duty, military families often have their hands full.
One important thing to note is that it’s best to offer help in specific and concrete ways. Vague offers such as “Let us know if you need any help!” are kind, but are easily forgotten or dismissed. These sorts of offers put pressure on the military family to determine what they need and can leave them feeling awkward. Some examples of concrete ways to offer support are:
- “We would like to bring you a meal. Does Wednesday night work for you guys?”
- “Would it be more helpful if I watched your toddler while you work on packing/unpacking or would you like some help with packing/unpacking?”
- “Can I watch your kids sometime this week so you and your spouse can go on a date?”
- “Do you want to come over for coffee this week and let the kids play together for a while?”
2. Be a Friend
One of the most difficult things about being part of a military family is constantly having to say goodbye to friends and make new ones. On average, military families move once every three years, and with each of these moves, families must start all over again making new connections and finding new friends. Not only is this difficult and exhausting but it can also leave military families feeling alone and withdrawn.
There are many ways to be a friend to military families. If you have kids, encourage them to befriend new military kids at school and organize playdates with them. Invite that new military spouse over for coffee or a BBQ. Whatever it may be, just include them whenever and however you can — believe me, they’ll appreciate it more than you’ll ever know!
Sometimes the best way you can support a military family is just by being there to listen. Military life is tough and full of challenges and changes. Having someone to confide in or vent to can be important and helpful for military family members.
One thing to note about being a good listener is that not everyone who confides or vents to you is necessarily looking for advice. Often, they just need someone to talk to, so it’s important to listen first and only give your advice or opinion if asked. The most important thing is just to be there for them!
How the ASYMCA Supports and Celebrates Military Families
To support military families during Military Family Appreciation Month, consider making a gift to the ASYMCA to provide more programs, resources and support to junior-enlisted military families across the USA!