Melissa R. Rich, Ph.D.
Last week was the 4th of July. I hope you enjoyed time with family and friends, ate good food, maybe saw a parade and watched some fireworks. That’s a big part of July 4th but it’s not all of it.
I saw a banner the other day while I was out running. It said, “Home of the Free, because of the Brave”. It caught my attention. There’s another popular saying you may have heard, “Freedom isn’t free”. Both sayings are true and thought provoking.
So I want to dedicate this blog to thanking the brave men and women in our armed services – along with their families. They often pay a very high price so we can live the lives we have.
Here are some facts about our military you may not be aware of.
The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest employer in the country – with over 3 million employees.
If the U.S. Army were a city it would be the 10th largest in the U.S. – having more people than cities like – San Francisco, CA, Jacksonville, FL and Austin, TX.
Over 2 million U.S. children have a parent who served in Iraq or Afghanistan – and many of those parents have been deployed more than once.
The average military family moves every 2-3 years. That’s 3 times more frequently than the average civilian family.
Deployments typically last 1 year. And sometimes both parents get deployed at the same time. When that happens their children have to live with temporary caregivers – grandparents, aunts/uncles or friends.
Because of moves, military families often have to give up pets. (This is a killer for me because I can’t imagine losing my 3 fur babies).
There are tangible ways to show our support and appreciation. Here are a few:
Help out with minor, everyday issues that may be difficult for a single parent – leaky faucets, lawncare, flat tires, etc.
Don’t wait until they ask for help – offer it anyway. Many military families hesitate to ask for assistance because the “can do” attitude is ingrained.
Offer to take the kids for a few hours and give the parent a break.
Recognize their sacrifice. Positive feedback and sincere appreciation go a long way.
And finally, seek out organizations like Support Military Spouses (www.supportmilitaryspouses.org) and participate with them.
Remember, our military and their families pay a high price so we can have our freedom. Let’s be sure to thank and support them.