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Category Archives: EventsImage
Each year, a Presidential Proclamation declares November as Military Family Month. Most years, it doesn’t even make national news. The backbone of our Nation’s military, the supporters behind the uniform, the ones who rise to meet the challenge of serving silently—military families hardly receive a minute of recognition.
Does anyone really care about military families?
Military families not only need your encouragement and support, they deserve it.
Here are four reasons why:
Reason #1: The Romesha Family
Tammy Romesha, Army wife, and mother of three, manned the homefront while her husband did tours in Kosovo, Korea, and Iraq. After a violent tour in Afghanistan, where SSgt Clint Romesha’s outpost was overran by insurgents, injuring him and 22 others, and killing eight Soldiers, Tammy stood strong and supported her husband’s love for the Army. SSgt Romesha was awarded the Medal of Honor in February 2013 for leading the efforts to retake the overrun outpost. Today, Tammy sits on our Association’s Board of Advisors, lending knowledge, perspective, and support to our mission to advocate for other military families.
Reason #2: Military Kids
A recent study found that about 1/3 of military children report symptoms of anxiety. These kids have worries that most normal adults don’t—stressors like deployed parents, frequent moves, and sometimes a parent’s injury. But military kids are resilient, and we’ve seen it firsthand. This Operation Purple Camper had a blast during her time at camp. One of three kids to a Retired Army dad, and a former military mom, she is a shining example of how military kids are able to thrive despite the challenges they face.
Reason #3: The Sisson Family
Since losing their son, 2nd Lt. Justin Sisson, to injuries sustained when an IED exploded on his walking patrol in June 2013, the Sisson family has spent each day since remembering the life he left behind and thinking of legacy he never had the chance to create. Many Gold Star families—who have lost loved ones to war—share the same fear: that their loved one will be forgotten. Through the creation of a scholarship fund, annual memorial 5k races, and the outpouring of support, the Sissons continue to keep their son’s spirit and sacrifice alive.
Reason #4: Amy Chaffin
During her three years as a military spouse Volunteer with our Association, Amy has raised important issues, such as the Army’s change in background checks, requiring those who volunteer with children to agree to have their medical and behavioral health records reviewed. Not only did Amy raise the issue, but she provided well-thought out reasons why this is problematic, and continued to follow the issue and provide subsequent information. Military spouses, like Amy, not only support their own service members, but lend their support beyond their own kitchen table, reaching out to their communities, military installations, and their fellow military spouses.
Though the Presidential Proclamation only declares November as Military Family Month, our Association believes every single day is Military Family Day. Join us every month as we honor, appreciate, and support the ones who make it possible for their service member to serve without hesitation.
Do you know any amazing military families who deserve recognition? Who would you add to the list?
“Reality is messy and people are raw, and that’s just who we are.” – Claudia Myers – Writer, Director and Producer of Fort Bliss
I was given the amazing opportunity this week to join some of my co-workers at a special screening of the movie, Fort Bliss, this week at The Women in Military Service for America Memorial.
Michelle Monaghan plays a soldier returning from a 15-month deployment to Afghanistan, only to face new battles at home. Her 5-year-old son has all but forgotten her, and she has forgotten how to relate to him. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the story explored aspects of military life that we talk about at the National Military Family Association (NMFA) daily, but that are rarely portrayed in Hollywood:
- Why would someone re-enlist after spending so much time away from their family?
- How can someone be a good soldier and a good parent?
- What is it really like coming back from deployment?
- Are there different expectations for female service members than their male counterparts?
- How to families cope with mental health challenges after deployment?
Not only was the movie incredible, the actors (including Emmanuelle Chriqui, Ron Livingston Gbenga Akinnagbe and Pablo Schreiber) developed a real passion for military families while making the movie. During the Q & A session following the screening, the actors had a lot to say about gender roles, abuse, PTSD, transitioning veterans, and more.
Not long ago I shared my thoughts as a civilian caring for military families in a blog post titled, “Military Family Support Shouldn’t Just Come From Military Families“. I love seeing others display the same passion for the families NMFA fights for every day.
“Fort Bliss is what it is. It’s a gigantic film made on a micro budget with a huge impact,” said Producer, John Sullivan.
Where can you see this movie?
Fort Bliss won the Best Narrative Feature at the G.I. Film Festival this year and we were lucky enough to see it before it hits select theaters this weekend in New York, L.A. and El Paso.
What if I don’t live in New York, L.A. or El Paso?
You can still support this incredible movie. Help us spread the word by sharing this with your friends, buy tickets at the theaters in those cities even if you can’t attend, and call your local theater to ask if they will bring the movie to your hometown.
“Service men and women are heroes, they are strong, they are resilient, and they all face challenges of leaving pieces of them behind when they fight for our country.” – Gbenga Akinnagbe
Let’s support a movie that supports military families. Together we’re stronger.
Founded in 1947, the United States Air Force turns 67 years old today! Happy birthday Air Force! Aim High! Fly-Fight-Win!
September 11, 2001—the day our Nation stood still. The day that seemed as if it would never pass. The day that started the longest war in our country’s history. While families of the 2,996 lost that day grieved for their loved ones, families of those serving grieved for what they knew loomed around the corner.
More than 6,800 service members have paid the ultimate price in the 4,749 days since September 11, 2001.
What our Nation remembers as a day in history, military families continue to live every day.
The first time I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was in 1983 while on a family vacation to DC. There was something powerful about that memorial, even to a 6-year-old. I stared, moved by the people tracing the names of their loved ones on pieces of paper to take home with them. So when our Association had the opportunity to wash the wall, I was honored and proud to participate with my family.
Here’s what I learned from the experience:
There’s a reason you wash the wall early in the morning. A 5:30 wakeup isn’t always appealing, but even without coffee, I felt energized watching the sun rise behind the Washington Monument while we washed the wall. Plus, it’s the only time of day the wall isn’t flooded with tourists.
Kids are actually helpful. Washing the fingerprints and smears off the granite isn’t physically difficult, but it can be emotionally draining. In fact, the memorial was created to help the 3 million who served with the healing process. Seeing the kids, elbow deep in suds, scrubbing the bottom part of the wall brought levity and life to the experience.
The wall was controversial, like the war. Everything about Vietnam was marred in controversy, even a memorial to those who served. The design was the result of a nationwide contest, and the entries were judged anonymously. 21-year-old Maya Lin, a student at Yale, came up with the winning design. Some said that only listing tens of thousands of names may as well be a tribute to anti-war activist Jane Fonda. Some even called it ‘a nihilistic slab of stone.’ The statue of three American soldiers was later added as a compromise.
What some see as a chore, others see as an honor. My dad, originally from Kosovo, was perhaps the most energetic wall washer in our group. He stood alone with the hose, even when others had moved on, paying extra care to each name. He shared that, in communist countries, people are forced to clean war memorials, which are built to honor communist leaders and their ideology—not the people who fought; it’s not something you volunteer for. He went on to explain to the group why this particular experience meant so much to him. “America is seen as a beacon of hope for people around the world,” he said. “Each time America sent troops to parts of the former Yugoslavia, they saved thousands of lives. I can’t think of anything more important than honoring those soldiers.”
One of the most beautiful parts of the wall washing was seeing the reflections of my fellow volunteers in the wall as they worked to clean it. As the park ranger so eloquently put it, “we are all a part of that wall.”
Have you ever been particularly moved by a service project? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Photos: By JMill Photography, 2014
Founded on August 4, 1790, and celebrating it’s 224th birthday this year, our Association would like to recognize the United States Coast Guard for it’s continued service and sacrifice to our Nation. Happy Birthday, Coast Guard!