One of the things I really appreciate as a military spouse is when my civilian friends and family acknowledge what we go through, and the challenges we might have. There have been times when their help is what has gotten me through, and I can’t thank them enough.
Sometimes we can feel like no one really sees us. That no one truly understands what we go through, or even that no one really wants to try to get our lives. We can feel as if the US as a whole doesn’t quite have a clue of what is going on with the military or know how to truly support the military community.
The truth is, there are so many things that the civilian community can do to help military spouses, here are 5 of them:
Send care packages
Sending a care package to a military spouse can make their day. Whether they just moved somewhere new, or their spouse is deployed, getting a package in the mail just for them can be just what they need. During one of our deployments, a family friend sent a package with a book for me, toys and candy for my boys, and a few other fun things. Getting this in the mail put a smile on my face and I will never forget that act of kindness.
Support Organizations that truly support military families
Donate your money and time to organizations that truly support military families. Look for the ones that give to the military community on a regular basis, hold events, and work with wounded veterans and gold star families. This is a list of a few of my favorites:
- Blue Star Families
- The Gary Sinise Foundation
- Armed Services YMCA
- Operation Homefront
- Fisher House Foundation
- DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Charitable Service Trust
- National Military Family Association
- Snowball Express
Commit to hiring military spouses
If you own a business, commit to hiring military spouses. Don’t shy away from us. Military spouses have so much to offer. And sadly, the unemployment rate for military spouses is 4 times higher than the national average.
Being open to hiring military spouses is a way to show your support for the military and will help the economy. According to the Blue Star Families Social Cost Analysis of the Unemployment and Underemployment of Military Spouses study, there are costs to the economy when so many military spouses struggle with finding employment.
There are so many changes that need to be made when it comes to military spouse employed. Being open and willing to hire military spouses is a wonderful thing to do for your community and your country.
Offer to babysit
If you are local to a military spouse, you can offer to babysit. Often times, the costs of hiring a babysitter can keep a military spouse going through a deployment from hiring one, even if they really need it. Having someone they trust to watch their kids for just a few hours can give a military spouse a much-needed break.
If you are a family member, and you can make it work, try to plan a visit to help them out. Having extra hands around when you are solo parenting is so helpful. That way, the military spouse in your life can get a break, and have another adult in the home to talk with on a day to day basis, even if just for a short time.
One of the biggest frustrations can be moving to a new place and not being able to find your people. While some military installations are large and have a big military population, others are not and finding friends as a military spouse can be challenging. Befriend military spouses and include them just like you would anyone else.
Yes, it is true that military spouses tend to move around a lot, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. In addition to that, you might also have a national guard or reservist spouse in your community that is looking for friends. Include military spouses and help them feel welcome in your city. Doing so goes a long way in helping a military spouse feel like their new city is home for them too.
Wherever you live, and no matter how close or far you are to a military installation, there is always something you can do to help military spouses.