President Ronald Reagan deeply appreciated the sacrifices the spouses of military members make to this country.
“Since the early days of the Continental Army,” began his Presidential Proclamation 5184, “the wives of our servicemen have made unselfish contributions to the spirit and well-being of their fighting men and the general welfare of their communities.”
In signing the proclamation, President Reagan declared May 23, 1984 as Military Spouse Day.
In 1999 Congress recognized May as National Military Appreciation Month and today – the Friday before Mother’s Day – as National Military Spouse Appreciation Day.
Since 9/11 the number of married men and women serving in uniform has grown. In being the “force behind the force,” their spouses endure periods of separation, reestablish homes on a frequent basis, and face unique challenges in education and employment.
“As parents and homemakers,” continued the proclamation, “they preserve the cornerstone of our Nation’s strength – the American family.”
There are many ways for individuals and organizations to show appreciation for and to military spouses.
The Small Things Count
Something as simple as washing their vehicles, cutting their grass or helping out around their home is a small act that shows an appreciation of a military spouse.
Another gesture of appreciation is to host a cookout or picnic. With summer in the offing, getting out of the house to share fun and food with military spouses is a great way for them to feel connected to their new neighbors.
Numerous on-base organizations host spa days, fun outdoor adventures, trips to cinemas or local restaurants, and other fun activities. These events foster a sense of belongingness.
To show their esteem for military spouses, many civic organizations make and distribute appreciation packages that contain snacks, gift cards and other items that make today a bit brighter.
Big Things Count Too
It goes without saying that military life is characterized by multiple moves from one post or base to another. A big way to appreciate and honor military spouses is to ensure they know about the benefits available to them.
- Tuition Assistance: The Military Spouse Career Advancement Account, or MyCAA, is a program that helps military spouses obtain better educational opportunities.
- Military Spouse Tax Benefits: The federal government recognizes that military spouses are not always provided an option of when or where they are required to move. Specifically, the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act allows spouses to claim their original state of residence on their taxes, especially if from a state with a lower tax rate.
- Free Classes on Base: Most bases offer many free classes to service members and their spouses. These classes provide resources which help in confronting military life challenges – from PCSing and deployments to new babies or new jobs.
- Employment Opportunities for Military Spouses: Due to frequent moves, military spouses do face problems in gaining employment. Many local and state governments have taken measures to eliminate this challenge.
- Free Counseling Services: Over the past decade, the Department of Defense has provided military families with free access to clinical psychologists. For some military spouses, knowing about this service is invaluable.
- Morale, Welfare & Recreation: MWR works with every branch of service to make leisure and recreational activities available to military spouses and their family members. From cinemas and catering services to childcare services and hobby shops, MWR offers a multitude of opportunities these spouses.
Click here for more information and other military spouse programs.
Marston and Reagan
The writer Ralph Marston once commented on how appreciation is simply expressed.
“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you.”
When it came to appreciating military spouses – the force behind the force – President Reagan clearly understood this sentiment.
You are greatly appreciated, today and every day.
For more ideas, read our article on how to properly say “thank you” to your military spouse.