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Commentary by Staff Sgt. Brian Stives, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office, MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho

May is National Military Appreciation Month, which encompasses several well-known holidays such as Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, but also the lesser-known Military Spouse Appreciation Day, which is May 9.

Military Spouse Appreciation Day isn't quite up to the exposure of Mother's Day, or even Secretaries Day, but it should be. Why are there no Military Spouse Appreciation cards at the base exchange, I wonder, or why aren't there special "Military Spouse" discounts for Military Spouse Appreciation Day at the department stores?

The answer may be that Military Spouse Day is easy to overlook in the busy month of May, and a great majority of people may totally miss it May 9.

Is it that military spouses don't demand much attention or praise so this day of honor has slipped under the national radar? Or is that, in the absence of greeting cards and flower arrangements designed especially for the occasion, we simply don't know how to commend military spouses?

I think it's probably a mixture of both. So on behalf of military spouses everywhere, here is a short -- and incomplete -- list of ways Americans can show their appreciation for military spouses, not just on May 9, but all year long.

Lend a Hand 
Military spouses spend a lot of time separated from their servicemember loved one and taking care of a house and family. The home repairs alone can feel overwhelming, but add to that the constant shadow of fear and loneliness, and often just getting macaroni-and-cheese on the table is a wearisome task.

If you know a military spouse living alone, offer your help occasionally by mowing the grass, taking their car to have its oil changed, or making dinner. After all, any servicemember will tell you, just knowing their family back home is being taken care of is the greatest support you can give them as well.

Don't Go MIA
It's a common phenomenon that military spouses come to expect: Once they tell someone, "My husband/wife is in the military," they might as well don a black sheep suit because some will never look at them the same again. As if being a military spouse is taboo! There's something about their situation that makes people uncomfortable -- the same awkwardness that afflicts people seeing a widow for the first time, I suppose. It's common to hear people say, "Oh, I didn't invite them because I didn't want them to feel like a fifth wheel ... with their husband or wife gone and all," or, "We didn't think they'd want to join the supper club because they'll be moving in a few years."

Military spouses -- especially military spouses! -- need connections and friendships just like anyone else. Don't abandon your military-spouse friend because you don't know what to say or you're afraid they'll move eventually. Take time to get to know military spouses -- they are some of the most fascinating people in the world.

Finally, each and every day, try to remember that there are thousands of men and women who sacrifice for our country without even leaving the house. They are watching children, maintaining a home, and supporting a servicemember -- all without asking for much in return, and that deserves our greatest admiration. Greeting card or no greeting card.



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