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Family Matters Blog: Spouse Stresses Importance of Serving Others

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2010 – Vivian, a Navy veteran and spouse, regularly guest blogs for Family Mattersand shares her experiences as a spouse of a sailor and a mother of two. Her husband, a Navy lieutenant, recently returned from Iraq and she has two boys who, she says, “enjoy peanut butter, trucks and air shows.”

In this blog, Vivian writes about the importance of volunteerism and encourages military families to visit Serve.gov to learn about ways they can pay tribute to veterans this month.

By Vivian

Navy Spouse

Stating, “Behind our brave service men and women, there are family members and loved ones who share in their sacrifice and provide unending support,” last week President Barack Obama proclaimed November to be Military Family Month.


And, because so many military families are communicating online and through social media platforms like Facebook, it was no surprise to me that many of my friends rushed to share the link to the official proclamation with status updates, giving their own take through blogs and online commenting, many questioning the need for recognition for “just doing what we do.”


I guess it also wasn’t surprising, given the people sharing, that most of the links were paired with upcoming opportunities for service and volunteering.  And, really, isn’t that just like a “milfam” member to take a Bravo Zulu and turn it into an appeal for help with another service project? That’s just how we roll.


Because that is what we do, right?  We can’t stop ourselves from volunteering. We serve right alongside our military members and we do it with great pride. Not the kind of pride that makes it hard to say sorry when you are wrong, but the pride that comes with knowing that you are making a difference and getting fulfilled from the experience. The pride that comes from working with others and understanding that we help each other get through the rough times. We have better celebrations together at homecomings and promotions not in spite of the hard times, but because of them.


We rely on each other to an extent that really makes us co-dependent on each for success, which is, at least to me, an important life lesson to take away. We’ve learned through experience that we are only as strong as our weakest link. Not only that, but we are responsible for that weak link and must envelope it with support. Otherwise we all fail together.  In recognition of this reliance on each other, we volunteer in our communities – in military circles and in our civilian ones – at amazing levels. The recent Military Family Lifestyle Survey conducted by Blue Star Families highlighted this phenomenon, revealing that 68 percent of the respondents had volunteered in the past year, and much of that volunteerism was informal in nature, such as assisting friends with meals and childcare (can you say deployment buddies?). Also, at least 9 percent of respondents volunteered more than 30 hours a month – that’s equivalent to a part-time job.  


So, in the spirit of revering service to the country, and to honor our milfam members for their contributions to their communities, I’m going to plug the website Serve.gov. Many incredible service events are going on around the country to pay tribute to our nation’s veterans this month -- some really awesome opportunities for fellowship, engagement and learning. There are many chances to look a veteran in the eye and simply say, “thank you,” which is priceless to our milfams, who know in their bones the price military service can exact.


But I’m not telling you guys anything you don’t already know. More likely than not, you’re already planning to share this with your own circle of friends, asking them to come help out at the service project YOU are organizing.  Just make sure you take a second before you hit “submit” to stop and realize that your contributions are substantial and vital. And, that you make all the difference in the world, “just doing what you do.”

To comment on this blog, or to read other posts, visit the Family Matters website.

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