Each year, November is designated as National Veterans and Military Families Month. It’s appropriate that during this special month we give thanks for what we have and hold dear – the blessings of freedom secured for us by our service members and their families. In my position as head of Military Community and Family Policy, I interact with members of the military community each and every day, and their strength inspires and humbles me.
The strength of our military stands upon a tradition of service that extends beyond those in uniform. Our country’s collective strength also comes from those who once served and have now rejoined civilian life, as well as from those who serve on the homefront.
It’s Not Just Veterans; It’s Their Families, Too
Veterans make our country stronger by applying their military experience in their post-service lives. They draw upon the leadership and training that were at the core of their military life as they transition to the civilian workforce, helping neighbors and communities in need, and serving wherever and whenever it is necessary. Our nation’s veterans know what it takes to get the job done!
Military families, too, have a special duty to kin and country. Military spouses, for example, stand in full support of their service members, often putting a career on hold to move to another installation or juggle life’s complexities middeployment. From settling their children in a new school to helping their service member’s parents navigate care when their loved one is far from home – military families do what needs to be done and never stop giving.
During my travels, I have heard a consistent theme from the many veterans and military families with whom I’ve spoken – words of unity, comradery and strength. They come together and help one another, acting as an extended family to all who serve our nation, because I’ve learned that service bonds can be the strongest of all. This is the tradition forged by our heroes on the homefront, and they deserve our admiration and appreciation.
As a nation, while we should give our thanks, recognition and support to our veterans and military families year-round – it is especially vital to do so during National Veterans and Military Families Month. You can join with Military Community and Family Policy on your preferred social media network as we show our support and appreciation for military families, or you can show appreciation in another way, be it in public or in private, online or in “real life.” Our military families have made it their mission to serve our nation; now it is our turn to serve them, whenever and however we can.
Support Continues Year-Round
The Department of Defense will continue supporting and empowering our military community long after the end of November. Through Military OneSource and a vast network of support on local installations, military families can access services such as relocation and deployment support, transition planning, financial counseling, career coaching and nonmedical counseling. It’s important to note that eligibility for Military OneSource services has been extended to a full year following separation or retirement from the military for new veterans and their families, thus ensuring ongoing support during the transition from military to civilian life. It is also available to both active duty, National Guard and reserve members and their families.
But there’s still more that communities can do to support our service members and their families. A friendly nod in passing, a warm welcome to the neighborhood, hiring a veteran, transitioning service member or military spouse to the local workforce – these actions, big and small, demonstrate our thanks and appreciation to our veterans, service members and their families.
For National Veterans and Military Families Month – and for all other months of the year – remember the burden and hardship shouldered by our veterans and military families, which they gladly took on for all of us. While we thank them for their service, the time has come to move beyond words to action. Where and when you can, please extend a hand to our veterans and military families in friendship and solidarity, in appreciation of the work they have done for America.
This post was written by A.T. Johnston, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy.