Military Family Appreciation Week

Military Family Appreciation Week is November 21-28. In fact, the entire month of November is Military Family Appreciation Month. We think it appropriate to recognize the courage, dedication, commitment, and support of those family members who didn't raise their right hand to take an oath, but who nevertheless serve this nation through their own sacrifices.

We're so proud of them and the choice they've made to support the military while their loved ones serve. We know it isn't always easy, and we appreciate the fact that they do it anyway. We know that their contributions make the world a safer place for all our children.

We think it appropriate that Military Family Appreciation Week includes the Thanksgiving holiday. As you count your blessings, we hope you'll remember our men and women in uniform and the families that enable them to serve. We owe them so much, and words are grossly inadequate.

Please include them in your prayers of Thanksgiving, for success in their mission and a safe reunion of their families. We encourage you to post a message of thanks to our troops and their families.

We'd like to share with you a story by Beth Wilson, published last week in the Kitsap Sun. We often don't realize how foreign the lives of military spouses seem to other civilians. They take the challenges in stride, and try to do the best they can. They don't think they're extraordinary. But to others, they are. Sometimes it helps to see ourselves through others' eyes:

During Operation Desert Shield, a new family arrived at my church. A lovely auburn-haired woman and her four children entered the church together. At first glance, I wondered if perhaps she was a single mom. In the weeks that followed, I noticed things about this woman and her four children.

I noticed that she had a system to get all four children into their seats and settled. She had a plan for getting them to their children's ministry classes at the appointed time in our service and still made it back before the sermon started. I saw how easily she made friends, took note of her cheerfulness, observed what a champion she was for her children and how fervently she prayed.

I noticed the children, too, had qualities about them. They seemed more 'independent,' able to grasp the hand of a younger sibling and lead them to their classroom. They seemed more comfortable talking with new children and adults. I thought this woman was "super mom" to be so together.

During our Sunday morning service, two weeks after Dessert Storm started, our pastor asked if there were prayer requests. Super-Mom stood and asked for prayer for her husband, an infantryman serving in Kuwait. Her voice cracked as she choked back emotions that sought to overwhelm her.

This was my first experience with a military family. Our church rallied around her and the children to offer what support we could. Through these efforts I discovered her world was very different from my own. I was the master of my life, the DoD was master of hers. The challenges I faced were nothing compared to those she faced as the wife of a soldier.

November is Military Family Appreciation Month. I'm grateful an entire month is established to recognize the unique service of those who never raised their hand to take an oath, yet serve our great nation with sacrifice and challenges. This month, we honor those who also serve, without uniforms or medals, the military family.

Your contribution to the defense of our nation is not insignificant. Adm. M.G. Mullen stated that while "we recruit a sailor, we retain a family." In his CNO Guidance for 2006, the second of his guiding principles, "Dedication to our People," states, "Our success in defense of this nation depends upon the men and women of the United States Navy and their families. Personal and Family readiness are vital to combat readiness."

Many of our civilian family and friends often don't understand or appreciate the lifestyle and challenge of the military family. They are jealous of our 30-days-paid-leave without understanding the challenge of deployment and separation. My 10-year-old twin nieces think it is 'so cool' to move all the time. Yes, you can have their address to set them straight — better yet, let your children set them straight.

From Martha Washington, to the woman in my church to my next door neighbor, the family always has played a vital role in the defense of our nation. We share in the sacrifice and the commitment of military service. Thank you for standing by your service member. Thank you for your strength and dedication and sharing in the oath they took. You continue to be my hero.

Message from the Chairman

This message is from the senior military man in the country, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

"This month, as we celebrate our blessings, and give thanks for our freedom to enjoy them, we take great pride in honoring November 21-28, 2008, as Military Family Appreciation Week.

"Families serve just as their uniformed service members do. And the military family has rarely faced as many challenges as our families do today. After seven years of war, hundreds of thousands of families have served through multiple deployments in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, as well as many other locations throughout the globe.

"But the love and support of our military families do more than allow us to serve abroad. Our families serve at the very center of American society. They are the bedrock of a free republic which provides for a common defense – and their commitment to the values of hard work, self-sacrifice, and moral virtue is a source of great pride and inspiration for us all.

"And, in this service, some families have suffered great loss – the kind of heart-wrenching loss that echoes for generations. We as a Nation owe the families of the wounded, and the fallen, a lifetime of gratitude and respect for a debt which we can never fully repay.

"On behalf of my family and those of the Joint Chiefs, to all our military families, past and present, we thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and your love. You truly are a wellspring of our Nation's honor, courage, and strength. With you by our side, we accomplish far more than we ever could alone.


Admiral, U.S. Navy"

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