Did you ever stop to think that today, this very day, is someone’s first experience with the military? Sure, all of the acronyms, last minute order changes, formal functions, deployments and overseas assignments may be familiar to you now, but they certainly weren’t when you started your military adventure.
Today, there is someone in your community who is experiencing a part of military life for the first time. What if this year, along with the resolutions to be a part of the latest diet craze, eat more kale or write in our empty journals (I will struggle with all three of these!) we resolve to reach out, support and welcome these new members of our military community!
Here is what we can do, together:
Welcome new military spouses. If you are an experienced spouse, seek out spouses who are new to the military. Make them feel welcome, listen to them. Note that I said listen to them, not talk at them and tell them what you know! Listen to what they need, where they are from, and thoughtfully share how your experiences relate to where they are. You will learn something, too!
First time away from home, or first PCS. If you have been a part of this military life for a few years now, you have probably already experienced several moves, and maybe have lived in a different country or two. So when you meet a military family who is away from home for the first time, or experiencing their first PCS, remember how you felt during your first PCS (IT WAS SCARY!). Reach out to these families and give them some encouragement.
First deployment. Service members are still deploying, and some service members and their families are experiencing a deployment for the first time. If your family has been through multiple deployments, reach out to families who are experiencing this for the first time. Tell them they will learn they are stronger than they ever realized, but it is okay to have bad days. Share what helped you during your loved one’s deployments. Most importantly let families know they aren’t alone.
Military kids. Every day a military kid is adjusting to a new community, a new school or a new home. If you are a parent whose kids have experienced lots of change because of military life, or a teacher who has had military kids come and go from your class, or even if you are an MFLC…you can help. Reach out to military parents and tell them what has helped the military kids in your life, remind parents how resilient kids are, and make sure parents know about the School Liason Officer (SLO), the Interstate Compact, and how the Military Family Life Consultant (MFLC) can support them.
New military parents. Everyday a military couple somewhere learns they will soon be parents! Do you remember what is was like when you were a new parent? Do you remember what is was like when your kids were small and your family was far away? Offer new moms and dads a smile in the commissary, hold new babies at unit functions so mom or dad can have a conversation with other adults or eat something without holding a wiggly baby. If you know a new parent who is alone because of a training exercise or a deployment, reach out to them so they don’t become isolated.
Remember what if felt like when you were a new military spouse, a new service member, or a new parent. Think about the kindness, knowledge, or friendship someone shared with you when you had no idea what you were doing. Be willing to help someone else figure out this exciting and crazy military life.
Tell us the most helpful thing someone shared with you when you were new to military life and how you will join me in helping others this year!
Together We’re Stronger.
Posted by Ann Hamilton, Volunteer & Community Outreach Manager