7 Ways You Can Honor Military Spouses During Military Spouse Appreciation Month

Written by Erin Warren

On April 17, 1984, President Ronald Reagan declared May 23 Military Spouse Day (now observed the Friday before Mother’s Day.) This has since grown into a full Military Spouse Appreciation Month, ensuring that the many service-related sacrifices of spouses will be acknowledged and appreciated alongside those of their husband or wife. Besides frequent cross–country (or around the globe!) moves and long stretches of living life without their partner, military spouses do their best to triumph over loneliness, underemployment, inadequate childcare, and reintegration struggles.

Having been married to an Active Duty Service Member myself for the last decade and a half, I understand the challenges faced by the husbands and wives of our Armed Forces, I am always excited to share how people can help support our community. If you are looking for ways to honor the men and women who spend their lives standing beside those who stand up for the United States, here are seven ways to show your appreciation:

1. Understand the Military Spouse Experience

Take a moment to step into the shoes of a Military Spouse. (They’re probably still packed from the last PCS!) Understanding where spouses are coming from will help you to better empathize with the unique path they walk.

Many books, blogs, and social media accounts delve into the subject, along with more “official” military resources that give would-be supporters a clearer glimpse into military life. I know many spouses who’ve read “You Know When the Men are Gone” by Siobhan Fallon during a deployment or binge-watched “Army Wives” while waiting for Boot Camp to end!

2. Offer Practical Support

One of the biggest challenges facing the spouses of our service members is frequent solitude. Whether their partner is deployed, underway, or in the field, they likely spend large swaths of time separated from one another. Add to this the fact that most military families are stationed at a considerable distance from traditional support networks, and this life can easily make you feel like you’re solely responsible for all the things, all the time.

This Military Spouse Appreciation Month, consider offering the spouses in your life some practical day-to-day help. Offer to mow their yard while you’re cutting your own. When they mention they need to run to the store, suggest keeping their kids for them while they go. If you’re meal prepping for next month, make an extra meal for their freezer, too. After they get home from work, help the kids with homework, and finish solo parenting their way through all the extracurriculars for the 120th day in a row? Well, they’ll never taste a lasagna better than the one they didn’t have to find the time and energy to make themselves, I promise you that.

3. Create Community Connections

According to the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), 43% of military families feel isolated from their communities. But being alone doesn’t necessarily mean having to be lonely- if you have the right friends. When separated from their partner and extended family, spouses can greatly benefit from an inclusive environment at school, at work, and within their community.

Ask if they’d like to join your PTO committee. Write a post on the neighborhood Facebook page suggesting morning porch coffees or evening walks with the neighbors. Help your community become their community!

4. Advocate for Military Spouse Employment

One aspect of military spouse life that has received much-needed attention in recent years is spouse unemployment and underemployment. Currently, a whopping 14% of military spouses are unemployed- that’s 6 times the rate of their civilian counterparts! The government, private companies, and several nonprofits have been working both together and independently to implement programs to assist spouses seeking gainful employment. There are new employment fellowships, ever-growing lists of remote opportunities listed on USAJobs, and virtual job fairs and resume workshops offered each month. Whether you’re in a position to hire or not, helping to advocate for military spouse employment is huge.

In 2024, the opportunities are out there when spouses know where to look. I have personally found a fulfilling opportunity with ASYMCA’s writing team and can’t believe I’m able to do something I love while helping my fellow military families!

5. Celebrate Their Achievements

Spread far and wide from our loved ones, those of us who have married into the military tend to have smaller cheering sections. Another great way to honor military spouses is to help them celebrate their achievements. Be it a social media post or recognition in a school or work newsletter, spouses need to know that their contributions matter no matter where it is they’re calling home. Military Spouse Day can be every day with the right crew of hype men!

6. Volunteer Time or Resources

There are many ways to give back time or resources to the military community this Military Spouse Day and every day! You can even start by donating your time volunteering with organizations. ASYMCA has volunteer opportunities for all your strengths- from overseeing s’mores prep to helping with after school reading skills and food pantries. With summer break quickly approaching, ASYMCA’s Operation Camp can be a fun, flexible place to start. If you’re short on time to give, base libraries are always accepting used books and all of these organizations know how to work monetary contributions to the greatest benefit, as well.

7. Personalized Acts of Kindness

Sometimes, you’ve just gotta get personal. Consider writing the spouses in your life a personalized note letting them know you see and appreciate their sacrifices, or go in on a Military Spouse Appreciation Day gift like a surprise latte or their favorite ice cream. Know they’re flying solo again and will never make time for themselves? Next time you’re booking a pedi, make an appointment for two and ask them to join you.

Double Your Impact for Military Families this Military Spouse Appreciation Month

When the time comes again this year, I hope this list of Military Spouse appreciation ideas will help you to recognize and honor the steadfast, resilient, and determined group of individuals that make up the Military Spouse community. No matter where we’re sent and who we have to leave behind, the appreciation, donations, and understanding of our communities help to keep us going strong.

Please consider donating to support ASYMCA’s services and programs for military spouses and families. This Military Spouse Appreciation Month, SAIC will double your gift to Armed Services YMCA dollar for dollar, up to $25,000*, to give more military spouses and families the resources and support they need to thrive.


Double Your Impact


*Gifts matched through May 21, 2024