By: Dawn McDaniel, Bravo Delta Consulting (EBV-F at SU, Class of 2011)
Editor’s Note: November is Military Family Month, in which the nation honors the commitment and sacrifices made by the families of our service members.
We are American Military Families. We love our service members and our country and believe that patriotism is the highest honor. Our service to the nation and our personal sacrifice for our country often go unrecognized by the masses.
There are few, if any, parades, speeches, or ceremonies to acknowledge the military family. While many think about our service members, especially during the month of November given Veterans Day, very few think about the families that quietly endure the long separations, the endless nights of worry, and the immense challenges of balancing and maintaining a life while also caring for and supporting their service member as he/she works to support the nation.
Instead of parades, military families make their sacrifices in quiet isolation. Our closest friends, neighbors and even family cannot always comprehend the challenges we face on the homefront. The military families who are located on or near a military installation are fortunate to have a community that at least understands the sacrifices required for freedom. However, even at these locations, military families are rarely acknowledged for their contributions to our nation’s security.
Our National Guard families often don’t have the luxury of a community that is attuned to the risks, challenges, and sacrifices that service members make, let alone the families of those service members. Being surrounded by people who do not understand or cannot empathize with their situation exacerbates the challenges these families face.
A community that is vastly unaware of all that the military family must forfeit can lead to empty offers of support and worse, hurtful and inappropriate sentiments toward the family. Of course, the community may not mean to offend, but they have no understanding of the situation and seldom seek to learn about it.
Military Families in Action
Take the recent storms on the East Coast as an example. Families all along the eastern seaboard prepared for the storms, gathered supplies, and executed their emergency plans. Families of National Guard members did all of this, and also said goodbye to their loved ones, many of whom were activated before the storm made landfall, leaving military families to fend for themselves during the storm.
As power outages stretched across the landscape, more National Guard members were activated and deployed to the hardest hit areas. Meanwhile, families of those service members worked to salvage their properties, endured power outages, and supported neighbors and friends.
The military protects our nation on both foreign and domestic lands, and leaves their own families behind to protect the people of the nation. Military families—the parents, siblings, spouses, and children—quickly answer the call to support their own communities despite their own personal sense of loss and disorder, for these are a caring group that understand the motto “one for all and all for one”.
For every service member there is at least one,if not more, family member on the homefront working to support their efforts by maintaining the bills, managing family affairs, and taking care of their loved ones. Their efforts to maintain order allow their service member to focus on his/her mission of defending our great nation and ensuring the daily freedoms that so many Americans take for granted.
The weight of our burden is heavy. The increased tasks and responsibilities are compounded by our heavy hearts. The days are long and the nights are longer. We do our best to be fearless and we gladly make the sacrifice for freedom.
Despite all the challenges that face our military families, they put on a brave face, swallow their tears, and focus on their service member and their nation. They do this thankless job day in and day out, year after year.
The next time you stop to acknowledge the sacrifice a service member makes, consider acknowledging their family members as well. Messages of appreciation from a grateful nation help instill that our sacrifice is worth it.
Dawn McDaniel is a military spouse and 2011 EBV-F SU graduate. She is the creator of Bravo Delta Consulting, an agency supporting military veterans and corporations as they work to integrate for corporate success.