November is Military Family Month, a celebration first established by the Armed Services YMCA in 1996 as a way to honor the sacrifices servicemembers and military families make every single day. American military families around the world are recognized in November through ceremonies and various events that thank them for their unconditional commitment and support for our military and our great nation.
There are many local and national services available to recognize and show appreciation during Military Family Month:
- Sesame Street for Military Families Free App – communicates topics such as deployments, homecoming, self-expression, and injuries.
- Operation Kid Comfort helps military children cope with deployment stress. The volunteers at the Armed Forces YMCA craft free custom-made photo transfer quilts and pillows for the children of our deployed active duty U.S. military servicemembers. www.asymca.org/operation-kid-comfort
- Many families are eligible for a free YMCA or private fitness membership through the YMCA-Department of Defense Initiative with the Armed Services YMCA. www.ymca.net/military-outreach/memberships.html
- Sears Heroes at Home provides gift cards and other assistance for military families. Visit www.sears.com/en_us/dap/heroes-at-home.html to find out more.
- College campuses with ROTC units may have parades highlighting Reserve officers marching, displaying the colors, holding drills, etc. These events may be on the campus, or ROTC units may connect with local organizers for events to be held in the community.
- Reach out to your local MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or Family Services offices to find scheduled events and celebrations in your area. There will be events at VA hospitals, benefit offices, and cemeteries across the country: open houses, town halls, benefits claim clinics, homeless veteran initiative events, suicide prevention events, faith-based community events, and flag planting tributes at national cemeteries.
Here are a few ways to raise awareness while supporting the military community:
- Create a care package that will help a spouse, servicemember, or a military family with easing the stress of deployment. Here are some tips for sending care packages: militarybenefits.info/tips-for-sending-care-packages-to-the-military-overseas
- Thank a veteran, active-duty servicemember, military spouse, or military child for their service.
- Volunteer at your local chapter of a veterans service organization (VSO) like The American Legion, AMVETS, VFW, Disabled American Veterans, etc.
- Visit war memorials with your family or friends to teach them the value of military service.
- Visit a veteran receiving care in a VA hospital or nursing home.
- Distribute poppies to servicemembers at VA hospitals, drop them off at a base’s visitor center (bring your driver’s license), or carry them with you and hand them out to servicemembers you see, etc.
- Volunteer or donate to a military assistance organization like the American Legion Auxiliary or The American Legion.