By Lindsay of Uplifting Anchor
SpouseLink Guest Blogger
As the holidays come and go throughout the year, we know how to support our troops. The routine is established and the major celebrations are taken care of. The lone warriors are adopted for a Thanksgiving meal. Christmas means cookie drives and big unit parties. Deployments equal a rally cry for care packages. A big breakfast is arranged for Easter, with an egg hunt for all the kids. It’s easy to volunteer for functions and make an impact during big seasons.
But there is a whole other year full of days where often service members are standing alone. Perhaps they are experiencing their first overseas tour of duty. They may be without their families, making the best of a hard situation and in need of encouragement.
What can we do in the off-times? What are we doing then to extend a hand, lend support, and show up for one another? These may very well be the moments where extra care is needed most.
The following ideas are dependent on the relationship to the servicemember and if it is appropriate with rank.
3 ways to reach out to Servicemembers between holidays:
1) Arrange a Family Meal. Breaking bread together is a sure fire way to help boost morale. Getting a servicemember out of the barracks and into a house with a home cooked meal is a welcome break from the norm. If conversation feels awkward, have a list of table topics to dive into, or a board game.
2) Decorate Doors/Common Area. Housing for servicemembers without family tends to be white, brown, and the same, same, same all year round. Ask for permission before jazzing it up, but a little hand drawn picture and a paperchain from your kiddos can go a long way.
3) Get Them Involved. Breaking the monotony of work is essential for a servicemember well-being. Arrange a list of great things to do in your area. Do any of them need volunteer hours? What do they want to do for fun? Can a sporting event, BBQ, or other function be arranged- that they have to help in the planning and set-up for? Keeping busy and helping to build community makes the military a special place to belong to.
It does not have to be a grand gesture to lift someone’s spirits. The other day I stood in my kitchen at 3pm furiously making strawberry cupcakes. It was not anyone’s birthday and my kid did not have a bake sale or class party. But my husband had just invited a group of our single Marines over for dinner.
I knew one of them in particular had been missing home. He told me at our last gathering he loved strawberry cupcakes. It had been a long week of trainings and late nights with early mornings. This guy was missing home, and a little strawberry cupcake went the extra mile.
It is in both the momentous occasions and the everyday drudgery of a post that strong bonds are formed.
Make your next station a memorable one by reaching out to service members in the off-season.
Lindsay is a mother, wife, and teacher, and the dreamer of Uplifting Anchor, her cozy internet home built on empowering tales of motherhood. Uplifting Anchor is for every mom, at every stage of motherhood, and she invites you to share your stories with her there.