by Edie Melson | During National Military Appreciation Month, 5 ways you can honor and support the families of those who serve.
I’ve written in the past about May being National Military Appreciation Month. But it continues to be a month that highlights ways we can help and support military families. Just a few weeks ago, I was approached by someone who wanted to reach out to a military family.
Her friend’s son had just finished basic training and had received the dates for his first deployment. As any close friend would, this young woman wanted to support this family during a challenging time. Her words touched me. “I want to help them, not add to their burden. But I don’t know what things would help and what things might hurt.”
She came to me because my son served in the Marines and was deployed several times. I’ve been in that family’s shoes. And she knows that I still serve military families any way possible—from the books I write to helping others stay informed on legislation that affects military and veteran benefits.
When we waved goodbye to our son on his first deployment to the Middle East, it was the beginning of a new family dynamic. The shock waves that shook our family as his bus pulled away reverberated for months. If it hadn’t been for our faith and our faith community, I don’t know how we’d have made it through.
So here are 5 ways you can help a military family:
1. Express heartfelt comfort and love.
This means stating how we feel—along with the admission that we may not always get it right while trying to help.
2. Pray for the military member and the family.
Prayer changes things. It brings us comfort because it helps reorient our perspective of God. Most important, God honors the prayers of His people.
3. Help the family focus on other things.
As a mom with a son at war, the hardest thing I had to do was not spend all my time and energy worrying about him. My friends helped a lot by spending time with me and keeping me active, getting me out of the house.
4. Bring comfort through meals, cards, candy, etc.
I’ve written before how the gift of a giant chocolate bar brought me comfort while our son was deployed. But there were other things that helped as well. One friend brought me several freezer meals for those days when I just didn’t have the energy to cook and didn’t feel like going out. Many friends wrote letters and sent cards, a visible reminder that our son wasn’t forgotten. Several friends got together and planned a fun weekend for my husband and me. All those efforts, big and small, meant the world to my family.
5. Send letters and packages to those who are deployed.
When our son was deployed, friends showered him with letters, care packages and, most important, prayer. Knowing that others loved him and were looking out for him too was the best thing our friends did.
I challenge you to follow the examples of our community and look for families nearby with ties to the military. This month, honor those who serve by reaching out in a special way.