The Other 99 Supporting Military Families
By Melissa Ford on April 18, 2011
BlogHer Original Post
Raise your hand if you or your partner serves in the military. I'm willing to bet that the majority of us are still sitting here with our hands by our side. This is because less than 1% of Americans are part of an active military family.
When I went to the White House earlier this year, a staffer said something that resonated with me:
"1% of the population is serving, and 100% should be aware of their sacrifice."
I have to admit that because my family isn't actively involved in the military, it's very easy to simply ignore the armed forces beyond what I read in the newspaper. Prior to hearing that quote, I hadn't given a lot of thought to the hardships of military families except the ones I personally know. (And even that, offering to babysit a bit or giving them a gift card doesn't really cut it.)
Being aware of the sacrifice is a simple task: I read blog posts by military families. I read about how they lived and their day-to-day worries. I read about women who worried about their partner's safety while he was serving overseas. I read about kids who were having trouble in school because they were uprooted once again. I read about what it feels like to say goodbye to your partner for an extended period of time, not sure how often you'll be able to speak to one another much less see each other again.
Just as every American should spend some time on a farm to see exactly how the food they eat is produced -- an act that will make you look at food waste in a whole new light -- every American should spend some time getting to know the enormous sacrifices military families make daily. Not just in actively placing themselves in harm's way, but the family members who remain back home, forgoing jobs, moving from state to state, rebuilding their lives over and over again. And they often do this while worrying about their family member who is serving.
Okay, so awareness is the easy part in fulfilling that quote; the question is -- what are we going to do about it?
The White House announced a new imitative on Tuesday called Joining Forces. According to a White House press release:
The initiative aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of our society – citizens, communities, businesses, non-profits, faith based institutions, philanthropic organizations, and government – to ensure military families have the support they have earned.
Major employers such as Walmart and Sam's Club have committed to mindfully hiring from military families. Health care organizations have committed to mindfully reaching out with both physical and mental health care services and information. Education and technology groups are working on ensuring that the children in military families are well-educated as they move from location to location.
That's what all the organizations and companies are doing. But here on BlogHer, we need to ask what we can do as the average citizens who didn't raise our hands with the first question. BlogHer is addressing this with a series of posts giving you insights into the world of military families and giving you concrete things you can do in order to get involved.
- Go explore the new site for the initiative, Joining Forces. You can input your zip code and see volunteer opportunities in your area.
- Jump into the community formed by Household 6 Diva bringing together military families with civilian families (and add yourself to the blogroll if you are a military family).
- Start reading the blogs on Household 6 Diva's blogroll getting to know the day-to-day world for military families.
Let us know in the comment section below what type of stories you'd like to see addressed as part of this project. And let's get started supporting that 1% who make the sacrifice of protecting our country.
Photo Credit of the First Lady and Lieutenant Commander Todd Hazlett: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.
Photo Credit of the First Family with the Monti Family: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.