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What Military Families Are Thinking About This Month

Photograph by Getty Images

Military life can be challenging. (Is that the understatement of the year?) Our family is approaching 12 months of having my husband home from war, although if you were to exclude training days, it would be closer to about six. Those early months were nearly impossible. The experience of getting to know our family again—not via Skype and a few minutes a week—but with another voice in the house, another body to care for, was more difficult than we ever expected.

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As he does with every year, the president has proclaimed November the month of military family. While those in the military—whether it is their children or their spouses off to war—just "get it," sometimes connecting between the military community and the civilian community can be challenging. This month isn’t about the free meals or discounted event prices posted throughout the country—it is more than that. It is about showing the military families in your community that they are appreciated, they are supported and cared for—to borrow the slogan from the USO—until every soldier comes home.

There are about 1.5 million soldiers currently in the US armed forces. The families that support them include spouses, children, siblings, parents, grandparents—the list goes on. These families send care packages, help care for and support their children during deployments or long series of training exercises and are a stable and supportive presence in the lives of soldiers who experience so much during their careers.

We are all holding our loved ones a little more tightly as we head into the holiday season, but reaching outward into the community is just as important.

This month—for the next 20-something days—I challenge you to find a way to connect with and thank at least one of the many military families across the US. There’s no scarlet letter to identify them, but they wear the invisible badge with honor and pride. It could be as simple as buying them lunch, helping with groceries or just saying a heartfelt thank you.

It has been a tough year for military families, like many others in the government bubble. Incomes have been uncertain, benefits in jeopardy and the possibility of military action frequent. We are all holding our loved ones a little more tightly as we head into the holiday season, but reaching out into your community is just as important.

As President Obama said last year, our nation owes "each day of security and freedom that we enjoy to the members of our Armed Forces and their families. Behind our brave service men and women, there are family members and loved ones who share in their sacrifice and provide unending support." If you are a military family, participate in these events held in your honor—be thankful for the support and appreciation in return.

RELATED: Military Families Are Ready

After years of moving and living far from our own loved ones, these communities—whether military or civilian focused—offer a strong sense of support and are often very welcoming, once we give them the chance. Jump in, get involved and say a little thank you to the other military families in your life that support you and your family through thick and thin.

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