From the NFRW Armed Services Committee
By Bekah Bibb, Virginia
Many assumptions enter one’s mind when one meets a military family. Individuals with no association to the military know that frequent moves and deployments accompany the job, but that is often the extent of their knowledge of military life. “Thank you for your service” is the most common phrase given, with the best of intentions, in these encounters. But according to the Blue Star Families 2019 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, only 8% of military families feel the general public understands the sacrifices they make.
In my 10 years as a military spouse, I’ve personally seen military families grieve the loss of husbands and fathers. Children leave behind schools, sports, and best friends for the unknown. Spouses lose out on incredible job opportunities, take a job they are overqualified for, or forced to have yet another gap on their resume. Military couples take years to start a family because deployments prolong infertility and adoption journeys. Marriages suffer due to constant distance. This doesn’t even include moving, deployment stress, or the inevitable anxiety when your future is constantly “up in the air.”
Military families step up to the plate by supporting the soldier at a great personal cost. Even with these challenges, when you talk to a military family notice how they thrive regardless of the circumstances. Military children are particularly strong as their unique life pushes them to make friends quickly, and be resilient to constant change.
We have the best military in the world because of our military families. Many of us don’t need constant praise or public displays of appreciation. We appreciate prayer and the occasional offering of a listening ear, free childcare, or just the words, “I’m here for you. How can I help?” These are a few simple but valued ways you can show your support to military families you know.
If you are part of an active-duty military family, we want to sincerely thank you for your sacrifice and all this entails. If you play a support role to a military family, we want to thank you, too. You play a pivotal role in supporting your military family even if it is just a listening ear.