This year's Military Spouse Appreciation Day is May 6.
Traditionally, it is the Friday before Mother's Day, building on the idea that 92% of military spouses are female, C. Eddy Mentzer, associate director of military community support programs for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, said.
Although the commemoration is only for a day, installations around the globe have a variety of spouse appreciation events throughout the month, as do many military and veteran service organizations.
Military OneSource has a variety of events on various days in May. Mentzer said the premier Military OneSource event this month is a three-day virtual symposium specifically designed for the military spouse community, scheduled for May 10 to 12.
Activities planned for that virtual symposium include:
- Sesame Street for Military Families
- Career building skills
- Discovering your talent
- Personal branding
- Job search tips
- Finding the right balance in life
- Tips on thriving in the workplace
- Money-saving ideas
- How to become an entrepreneur
- Guide to stronger relationships
"With a million military spouses across the active and reserve components, that's a million individual stories," Mentzer said, referring to the unique life experiences of each of those spouses.
"That's something as a department that we have to really recognize. While we can't solve every challenge, we have to listen to those unique individual stories," he said.
Military spouses are important for several reasons, Mentzer said, including manning the home front when the service member is deployed and providing moral and emotional support.
Knowing that the military is taking good care of spouses and families has a major impact on troop morale and readiness, he said. It also factors in their decision on whether to reenlist.
Mentzer can speak authoritatively about military spouses because he's been one for 21 years and still is. He has also been at the forefront of military family readiness for more than 30 years as a federal civilian, spending more than a decade working in the office of the secretary of defense.
His wife, Eries, an Air Force colonel, is the wing commander of Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. They have one child, Jaxson, who is 11.
"One of the things we talk about quite often is focusing on having complementing, not competing careers. And you know, it is doable. It's not easy. We've each had to make sacrifices. But we've also been able to achieve quite a great deal," he said.
Mentzer mentioned that military life must have rubbed off on Jaxson, whose goal is to be a military broadcast journalist. He turns 12 this month so in just a few years that goal will be within reach.
Visit the Military Spouse Appreciation Month page for resources and information and to register for the symposium.
About Military Community and Family Policy
Military Community and Family Policy is directly responsible for establishing and overseeing quality-of-life policies and programs that help our service members, their families and survivors be well and mission-ready. Military OneSource is the gateway to programs and services that support the everyday needs of the 5.2 million service members and immediate family members of the military community. These Defense Department services can be accessed 24/7/365 around the world.
More About Military Spouse Appreciation Day
On April 17, 1984, President Ronald Reagan established Military Spouse Appreciation Day with Proclamation 5184, recognizing the countless sacrifices and contributions made by military spouses since the days of the Continental Army and Navy.
In 1999, Congress officially made Military Spouse Appreciation Day part of National Military Appreciation Month to recognize the many sacrifices military spouses make as they put their personal and professional aspirations aside for their service member.