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National Veteran and Military Families Month

national military families month

November is National Veteran and Military Families Month

First established in 1996 by the Armed Services YMCA, Veterans and Military Families Month is celebrated each November. It is a time to honor those who not only know what service entails firsthand, but also make sacrifices alongside their service members in everyday life.

Veteran and Military Families Month has been a nationally recognized holiday by the U.S. Government every year since its inception, with a tradition of the President signing a declaration to highlight the occasion. 2019’s Presidential Proclamation declared:

During National Veterans and Military Families Month, we honor and express our deep appreciation for these brave men and women and their families… We recognize the integral role our more than 2.6 million military family members play in supporting our Armed Forces and contributing to their mission.  While our military men and women are serving at home or overseas, it is our duty to provide their families with the resources they need to thrive in our communities… Each warrior who fights for our Nation, along with their families, has earned our eternal gratitude, and I ask that all Americans thank and support them.

The role of military families is to provide a supportive foundation to those men and women who are actively serving, deployed, or training. Separation between service members and their families can stretch for long periods and over long distances, with oftentimes sporadic communication and stressful conditions. In addition to that, military families are faced with frequent moves and a constant need to adapt to new environments.

There are a number of local and national services which provide assistance and showcase their appreciation during this month and throughout the year. Most of these organizations put on events for the military families to enjoy, such as:

  • Every year the Armed Services YMCA provides a downloadable ‘Military Family Month’ packet on their website that contains:
    • Military Family Month poster,  a message from the President, a letter from the National Executive Director of the ASYMCA, Military Family Month program suggestions, and guidelines for the annual art and essay contests. *Due to coronavirus, it’s possible this may look differently this year
  • Sesame Street for Military Families Free App, which addresses a number of topics like deployment, homecoming, and more
  • Operation Kid Comfort is “designed to address the emotional stress that children of military personnel suffer during a parent’s absence from home,” by providing free quilts and pillows for them. Go here to submit a quilt request
  • Through the Y’s Military Outreach program, many Military Families are eligible for a free YMCA or Private Fitness membership
  • Sears Heroes at Home works with Rebuilding Together to assist low-income military families with critical home repairs and accessibility modifications
  • Operation Homefront has a number of programs to support military families, but Mission2Honor is a campaign that specifically honors Military Families Month

If your goal is to show your support, you can do that in a number of ways:

  • Use #MilitaryFamilyMonth on social media in solidarity and to spread awareness to others
  • Donate (time or money) to the USO-Metro’s Turkeys for Troops, providing holiday meal baskets and a fun, festive environment
  • Adopt-a-soldier (and their family) for the holidays, which can happen in any number of ways. Check out this website for great ideas of how you can do this
  • Contact your nearest military intallation’s Morale, Welfare, And Recreation (MWR) office to see events or activities planned for the month where you can volunteer your time or money. The winter months are when most fundraising happens as they gear up to assist military families over the holiday season
  • Volunteer at a local chapter of a United Service Organization, Red Cross, AmVets, Disabled American Veterans, Armed Services YMCA, etc.
  • Donate your professional services to the military community. If you’re a professional counselor, psychologist, social worker, therapist, child care professional, or community organizer, the organizations that serve military families may need your assistance

This is not a comprehensive list, but it should get you started. For military families, you can always contact your local Military Family Support Centers for more information on location-specific events for Military Families Month. And don’t forget, November 11th is Veteran’s Day!