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Nov 062018
 

Anyone can show appreciation for military service – and there are many ways to do so besides saying “Thank you for your service.” Whether there’s a military family down the street, or your service member lives across the country, here are ten simple ways to actively support military families and show them their service and sacrifices are valued.

Written by: Lizann

Five easy ways to show appreciation for a military family that lives nearby:

  • Be neighborly. Sometimes military families live in one location for the service member’s entire career, but it’s very common for them to move a lot. Whether you think they will be neighbors for years or for a short time, try to get to know them. Introduce yourself, ask their names, offer to share a cup of sugar, etc. A little neighborly friendliness means a lot to military families who are used to being new in town.
  • Share local tips. If you have lived in the same town for more than a year, you may be a local expert compared to a brand-new military family. You know a good hairdresser, where to get the best deals, and where to find a fun restaurant. Share your wisdom with your new military neighbors. Ask them if they need recommendations for places to go or ways to save money in the community.
  • Lend a hand. Military families are typically strong and independent. Many hesitate to ask for help. But even if they are too proud to ask, almost every military family needs help sometimes, particularly while the service member is away. Offer to help in specific ways—mowing the grass, getting their mail while they travel, watching the kids during a doctor appointment, etc. If you offer something specific based on your own skills, your new neighbors will most likely be grateful and accept your kind offer.
  • Include military families. When planning neighborhood events, make sure to invite your military neighbors. Even if you don’t know them yet and aren’t sure they will be interested in neighborhood traditions, it never hurts to extend an invitation. Military families feel appreciated when they are included in the community.
  • Don’t judge. The military community is very diverse, in every way. Your military neighbors may be politically conservative or very liberal. They could have any religious background or perhaps none. They may have lived in communities all over the world or spent years living in a tiny military town. They may have several pets or none, lots of kids, or perhaps they are both working professionals. They may keep to themselves or be very outgoing. Try to get to know them before jumping to conclusions.

Five ways to show appreciation for distant military family members:

  • Connect on holidays. Distance doesn’t have to prevent you from celebrating holidays with your military loved ones! Include them in holiday celebrations via video calls. Send cards or care packages so they know you appreciate them.
  • Offer to visit. Service members and their families can’t always take time off to come home. There may be more flexibility for you to visit them instead of expecting them to travel to you. Suggest different options so you can see each other while respecting the demands of their military training schedule.
  • Send care packages. Everyone appreciates a care package from home. You can send special gifts and favorite foods from home – not just to deployed service members but to the family members, too. A care package can be the perfect way to recognize a birthday or anniversary, or just a thoughtful way to share love from home.
  • Send help. Everyone appreciates a little extra help now and then. When you live far from your service member, you may feel like there is nothing you can do to make their life easier. But you can help from afar by sending a meal delivery or assisting with a grocery delivery service. Ask them what else might be helpful: a lawn care service, help from a handyman, house cleaning service, etc. The smallest gesture of kindness can make a huge difference to a military family far from home.
  • Listen. Military life can be challenging. Occasionally, service members and spouses need to vent their frustrations and loneliness. When they do, be a supportive, listening ear. Don’t try to toughen them up by telling them “you signed up for this” or that you have your own struggles. Just try to listen and be supportive. That’s the best way to show appreciation for a military family.

It’s as easy as that, folks! Go forth and show your appreciation for military families and service members. Is there anything else you would add to this list? Share with us in the comments!

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All materials copyright Military OneSource, 2012. Blog content held jointly by writer and Military OneSource, with shared rights to republish with appropriate attribution.