Thank you, for your service!

Thank you!(I claim no rights or own this picture.)

As a dual service (Army/Navy) veteran and guardsman, I have heard this statement and I appreciate the sentiment behind the words. As a former military dependent and as someone who has seen first hand the plight of military spouses, I want to raise some awareness. My wife served as a geographical bachelorette while I was sailing in the US Navy. She spent a significant amount of time fighting plumbing, home, budgeting, and health problems all while I was engaged in military duties. Now, as the spouse of a disabled veteran, she continues to serve. Since many times the service of military dependents and spouses goes unnoticed, from a grateful veteran, Thank You!

Often I have told military spouses that your service is the more difficult service. Your worries often leave premature grey, stretch thin resources for child rearing, and can include some of the most frustrating moments of your life. Your service should be called the “Silent Service” as too often the parade includes your spouse but not you. You get less recognition than you deserve, and your service does not end with a contract date. Your enlistment seems to take everything from you but dignity; and the grace found in the company of military spouses is very difficult to describe. Please know, even when we forget to say it often enough, your sacrifice and services are appreciated. Thank You!

To the kids who sacrifice time with their mothers and fathers, sacrificing special events, such as birthdays, holidays, and other important occasions, Thank You! Your service and sacrifice is also appreciated. Often times you get the blunt end of the stick when you want or need a parent and cannot find one because one parent is in the military and the other is working to make ends meet. Yet, when the military parents’ service is completed, you still serve. The emotional upheaval found in a returning military parent can often be frustrating, difficult, and sometimes you feel lonely while in the same room with your parent. Sometimes your sacrifice includes a disabled parent or worse the loss of a parent and the additional loss of friends as you move from military bases to a different home often far away. You sacrifice so much and many times it seems your sacrifice never ends or is not completely understood leaving frustration, anger, and resentment. Your service and sacrifices are appreciated; please know it is noticed.

To the extended family of military members who answer the 0300 call for help with frozen pipes, acting as sounding boards, holding the hands of military dependents as they get hard news about a loved one, Thank You! Many times as a deploying service member, knowing the extended family was still going to be active and engaged helped me leave those troubles behind and focus on the task of military service. Thank you for being there, for being willing, for reaching out, and for understanding and enduring the expected and unexpected of military life, commitment, and responsibility. It is very hard to be extended family of a military service member, and your sacrifices are appreciated. Too often, you have to learn another language just to have a conversation. Many times you experience concern about what now when the phone rings, and when family ties stretch to the far flung battle lines and your loved ones are away. The worries can be an added weight that many times feels like it can swamp you; yet, for all this you remain engaged, Thank You!

A volunteer military is very hard on communities, harder still on families, and yet even harder still on the military member. Yes, it takes a village to support a military member. To the friends of military members, who pitch in to move a family, answering emergency calls for help, and providing support, Thank You! You in the community do a lot; your words and kindness, your time, your discounts, and your understanding are appreciated. For those communities with a larger share of National Guard and Reserve military members, you spend a lot of additional time adjusting to changing labor pools, tax pools, and often these changes come last minute as a reservists or guardsman is called upon to fulfill a different duty and you are left with the responsibility and making the changes. Employers, who have to make an emergency reshuffle, then shuffle again when the reservists or guardsman returns; your sacrifice is also appreciated.

This article is not to reduce in anyway the sacrifices of the military member. I know how hard it is to leave loved ones for deployments and daily activities with prolonged hours to do the assigned military duties. I know the time, emotional, physical, and monetary sacrifices (amongst so many others) of the military members. As a community member who supports the reservists and guard members, as a fellow veteran, as a previous dependent, I have seen and experienced much, but the support group of extended family, communities, children, and spouses need recognition. The service of families, especially spouses and children, needs spoken to, honored, and gratitude provided. For even after we, the service members return physically, too often we continue to struggle and these members continue to sacrifice and serve.

From this veteran to fellow veterans, to those who have passed on ahead and those currently serving, to their wives and children, to extended families, to friends and communities, Thank you! You stand tall with the dignity of a country that is known for having the greatest military in the history of the world. Our military is great because of you. Your sacrifices, dedication, and service makes being a military member a little easier, Thank you! When your military loved one passes and I leave a Thank You, this signifies my gratitude not just for your sacrifice and your support for the military member, it recognizes that you shared and lost something precious, and I am grateful for both the service provided and the sacrifice rendered by your military member and you, Thank You.

© 2015 M. Dave Salisbury

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