May is Military Appreciation Month!

May is officially upon us, which of course means that summer is just around the corner. It also means that we have begun Military Appreciation Month! The 31 days of May – including Armed Forces Day on May 21 – offer an exciting opportunity to thank our troops (and their loved ones!) for their tireless dedication and service in defense of this nation.

The month of May is now coincidentally linked as well to a recent turn of events in the war against terror, due largely in part by the courageous Service members who give hours, days, and years of their time (and that of their families’) in order to protect the United States and offer some comfort and freedom to the rest of us.

Below is an excerpt of a recent blog post by Mrs. Deborah Mullen, a Navy mom and wife of Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2011 – I can personally attest to the inner strength military families develop through deployments, frequent moves and new cultural experiences. There is, of course, much to love about a military life and a lot to value about the richness and diversity it brings to our children’s perspectives.

But as I meet with military families across the country, it is clear to me that a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has challenged them, stretched them, and tested their resilience and strength in unprecedented ways.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

That reality isn’t always readily seen or understood by the rest of America.

My husband Michael speaks frequently on this topic. He notes that today, less than 1 percent of our nation’s population serves in uniform.

We are concerned that people who used to have day-to-day connections with military men and women and their families may not know much about them anymore, so they are simply unaware of the stress and challenges these families face — a situation compounded by the fact that most military families bear their burdens quietly.

It is evident to me that people care and want to help. Often, they just don’t know what to do to support our military families in the ways they need it most, particularly as they transition back to their communities and to civilian life.

That’s why April’s Month of the Military Child and May’s Military Appreciation Month are important efforts that help us get moving in the right direction. They keep us talking. They offer avenues for appreciation and action. These things can only strengthen the connections between communities and our military. I also believe they can only strengthen our country.

There are many ways, big and small, to get involved. However people choose to support, the concept is straightforward. Our military men and women and their families do so much and sacrifice so much to take care of America. This is about doing everything we can to — together — take care of them … not just in April or May but year round.


*Note: You can read Mrs. Mullen’s full blog post here, and also  follow her on Facebook and Twitter.