There are so many meaningful ways to support our Military families. If you don't know of a military family with a deployed loved one, the simplest way to find one is to ask! Most military families do not not live on or near a base. So chances are, someone at your work, church, library, or your favorite hang-out knows a military family or a soldier who is deployed! Once you have made a connection, here are some meaningful ways to provide concrete support to a military family coping with deployment.
It doesn't have to be grand:
1. Mow the Lawn
2. Offer to Babysit
3. Provide a Meal
4. Better yet- Host a Meal
5. Change/Replace the Burnt-out Light-bulbs
6. Send a Care-package, to the Children
7. Wash/Vacuum the Car
8. Invite the family over to celebrate a holiday (Valentine's, Easter, Fourth of July, etc.)
9. Send Flowers or a Card
10. Take the Kids on a Day Out (to the park, the zoo, a free museum, fishing, etc.)
Any gesture will be greatly appreciated and will brighten the mood of those missing a loved one. The best gift to give is the gift of time and availability. Remember, the spouse is under a great deal of pressure, anxiety, stress, and worry. When communicating with him, remember to use positive, encouraging words. Rather than telling her how strong and capable she is, why not tell her that she is doing a great job managing all that she is juggling? Try not to ask when she last communicated with her spouse; it only serves to highlight the silence and increases anxiety. And, whatever your political views are regarding the war, remember that one can disagree with the war, but still support the soldiers.
If you are a trusted family member, arrange to spend more one-on-one time with the children. Spend time crafting a card or creating a special project to send to their deployed parent. Let them talk about their feelings, but don't push if it is not something they want to discuss. Pay close attention to their eating habits, moods, and behavior. If you notice a dramatic change in the child's behaviors, casually mention it the parent. Children are particularly sensitive to deployment, and they express their emotions differently than adults.
Common responses in children to a parent's deployment include some, but not all, of the following: lack of appetite, withdraw, sudden outbursts, acting out in school, failing to turn in assignments or homework, night terrors, night mares, regression (a potty-trained toddler may need diapers again). Observe your child and note moods or changes in behavior that are not typical of your child. If symptoms don't go away after two weeks, take your child to the doctor for a professional evaluation. Your doctor will be able to provide you with additional resources and support.
Next Post: How to Help when You Don't Know Anyone who is Deployed! (check back 01/ 31!)