This blog will be revolving around supporting our military families. With Reserve members, there is always a chance of being called to active duty; after all, you have made the oath to serve your country and protect with all costs. Spouses and children of military members often suffer tremendously during times of deployment, having to be separated from their beloved family members for weeks or months at a time. For this post, support for military families for deployment and beyond will be discussed. We must remember, our military families are just as important and deserve to be looked after while servicemen are away from home.
One of the biggest supports for military families come from support groups. Support groups often provide the sense of not being alone, of having peers around that are experiencing similar feelings that a person is feeling. It is strongly encouraged that military families – especially spouses – have some sort of support system for themselves. Military family support groups usually consist of a member or two of a military family – commonly the wives of military husbands – whom often come together with a group facilitator. Throughout these meetings, feelings regarding deployment or other military aspects are discussed; sometimes there are positive feelings and other times, feelings are not so positive. Most people whom have participated in these support groups have found them to be extremely beneficial. Like stated before, most participants are women, and most will agree that having someone to talk to about whatever feelings they are experiencing regarding living the life of a ‘military family’ is a great outlet and helps to cope with what is happening around them.
In addition to support groups, other family members can be supportive towards military families with what they are experiencing. It is always important to have an outlet and being able to speak to someone is one of the biggest outlets for repressed thoughts and emotions. Family members are often the first ones that a person may turn to in their time of need. If you are a military spouse and are having trouble dealing with some experiences or emotions, then speak to a family member. Some family members may not be able to directly relate with what feelings are being experienced. They may not be a military family themselves, so they simply cannot know exactly the right thing to say. Still, having that person on the other end of the phone and to give some encouragement is important to have. People always need encouragement and a boost in all areas of life, so this would be especially needed as a military family.
In addition to having to deal with the feelings surrounding a loved one being deployed for long periods of time; military families are often subject to the moving process quite often. This can affect not only service members, but spouses and children as well. Spouses must once again become adjusted in a new area and have a new routine to fit that area, children are once again being moved to another school and having to be the ‘new kid’ once again which can lead to other problems for them. This is simply the life of a military family, but there is support for this as well. Try to bond with fellow families on the military base or in the neighborhood. When moving to a new area and then having to deal with a deployment, neighbors can become a support system as well. Having a neighbor to speak to – especially one that may be going through a similar experience – can be beneficial to adjusting to new areas as a military family. Children can also bond with other neighborhood children in these new areas, if any, and this can help them in the process of adjusting to a new school and the new changes surrounding them as well.
Other events can provide support for military families as well. For example, in my area, they have a picnic in the park for military families, which allows them all to come together and share experiences with having a military family member. This is important as well, in my opinion, as it is a fun way for all members of the family to get out and have support from other families that are yet again experiencing a situation like them. Peers have expressed that the military events also provide great support. For example, military commands often host “yellow ribbon” events for military families. These events are sponsored through the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, commonly abbreviated as YRRP. These events typically allow for the National Guard and Army Reserves to prepare service members and their families for deployment. These events also provide information and support to help with reintegration with families, communities, and employers upon the return and release from duty. YRRP also helps to sustain support for family members throughout the deployment term.
Other support for military families include Family Assistance Centers, commonly abbreviated as FACs. FACs are in every state to serve geographically dispersed military families and have proven to be a very effective tool in services. FACs provide information and resources as well as outreach and referrals in the community and serve all active and Reserve service family members. Through the joint services website, one can find a family assistance center in their area for support and information if needed.
Children are often affected the most within a military family due to the many changes that often present themselves within the family, whether due to deployment or relocation, and so on. Having support for children is very important as well. Some forms of support for children provided to Reserve parents, children, or caregivers include childcare and youth services. One of the most popular partnership programs for military families is the Operation Military Child Care, which partners between the DoD and the Child Care Aware of America. This helps military families find child care in their communities, and one of that meets their needs. Youth programs for military children include Our Military Kids, the National Military Family Association, and Military Child Education Coalition. These provide access to resources for military parents to use to help children cope with emotional aspects of having a deployed parent.
Being a military family can prove to be very demanding and challenging. While we cherish our servicemen and all the work they do to protect our country, we must also remember that their family needs our support and protection as well. It is not easy to have a family member away for extended periods of time or to have to constantly relocate to fit the needs of the military, but with support, military families will be able to cope and transition easily and with a more positive outlook.
To the men and women serving our country, we salute you and thank you for your service. To the military families out there, there is support ready and available for you all. You do not have to endure this alone. I hope that this post as been beneficial for all those who have read this post. Until next time, and God bless!