Organizations across America are honoring military families but somehow, somewhere the message gets muddled and transfers over to appreciation for the service member. Do not in any way, shape or form misunderstand my message here, I am wholly supportive of our Nation’s service members and believe they provide us with everything we hold dear. Without our military America wouldn’t exist. I am proud of my husband’s voluntary service to our Nation and he and millions of others before him have done something I could never do. I do not take away their bravery, sacrifice and patriotism to our great Nation. What I do struggle with is how appreciation for military families gets lost.
I have written about the challenges military families face before in my fictitious piece, “The Patriots” but I’d like to share a real story with you. This story is about a military family living in Germany who just got word they will be unexpectedly moving in less than 45 days (and oh by the way the holiday season is upon us). The Service Member recently found out he was selected for a premier and highly coveted position, requiring the move back to the U.S. This exciting and honorable selection comes at a cost. His wife has to leave her job (she is one of the lucky ones to have a job overseas) with no prospect of opportunity where she is headed. This also requires their child to leave mid-year during her sophomore year in high school. Think back to your high school years. I’m sure many have repressed those awkward, uncomfortable yet formidable years. It’s challenging enough to get through high school in normal circumstances much less by throwing in a mid-year move to the mix. The family couldn’t be more proud of his accomplishments and you’d never hear them say anything might be amiss with this impending move but imagine for a moment if this was your family. Would you react in the same way with you head held high, ready to take on the next set of unforeseen obstacles that lie ahead? These are significant, life-changing experiences and challenges they are facing, yet they are a military family and this is expected of them. Sure, they anticipate deployments and moves and have faced them head on. These challenges are what make them a military family. In fact, these challenges, sacrifices and self-less acts are what deserve America’s attention and appreciation.
Everyday military families make sacrifices behind the scenes. America doesn’t see these sacrifices because they aren’t on the front-lines. They are behind the scenes supporting our service members so that they can be on the front-lines defending and supporting our freedom. Just because you don’t hear them complain or see them on the front-lines doesn’t mean they don’t make sacrifices too. General (R) Raymond Odierno publically commented on such sacrifices when he spoke of his wife in his retirement speech saying, “She sacrificed her entire life for me. I can never repay her.” These sacrifices are worthy of America’s attention.
Military families endure so much hardship and so much joy and pride from our sacrifices because we are fiercely patriotic like the service members we stand beside and support. I am asking those who engage in Military Family Appreciation Month to remember the meaning behind the Presidential Proclamation and truly honor the sacrifices military families make and make military families a priority.