Sarah Chamberlain | Remember To Thank Military Families For Their Service Too

by Sarah Chamberlain

Whenever I meet a military veteran, I make sure I say “thank you for your service.” They typically reply with a simple “you’re welcome” or “thank you.” Recently, however, when I offered those words of gratitude to a veteran, he not only replied with “thank you,” but he added “Thank my family, too. Sometimes they have it harder than me.”

Indeed, they may. While our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are stationed around the country or the world, spouses and children may move with them, leaving behind their support network of family and friends. John Milton’s famous quote is often applied to the military family: “they also serve who only stand and wait.” But the fact is, they do not just stand and wait.

Military families set up a new households, find new schools, new daycare, new doctors, new friends, and get a new job to support the family because the meager military salary is not enough to pay bills. With each move, it all starts over again.

When deployment is at sea or to a more hostile zone, families remains behind with additional worries about safety and security. In an era where we take for granted instant global communication, even that may be cut off. Then there are those unexpected challenges: mowing the lawn, repairing the car, calling the plumber. Families waiting behind often face these problems alone, straining patience and relationships. It takes tremendous dedication for families to thrive throughout all those years in the service. After discharge, if that service member is bearing visible or invisible wounds of war, such as PTSD, the spouse continues an even greater silent service to our country, never receiving a paycheck for their sacrifice to care for those less visible wounds.

During Military Family Appreciation Month, it is our responsibility to offer more than words of thanks. Congress has several active bi-partisan bills to do just that.

Click here to read Sarah Chamberlain's entire article on Forbes.Com