Every month is military family month

  • Published
  • By Dawn Brown
  • 56th Fighter Wing Airman and Family Readiness Flight
For the past 12 years, the president of the United States has proclaimed a month to honor the dedication and sacrifice of the families of military servicemembers. That month is November.

Recognition of the importance of the military family has been a long time coming. These quiet, unsung heroes have always been a vital part of keeping our nation strong throughout its history. The popular view of military families, up until Operation Desert Storm, was that they were dependents who were dealt with because of their relationship with an active-duty servicemember.

Remember the old adage, "If the military wanted you to have a family, they would have issued you one." As a former active-duty military member and later a military spouse, I can attest to how attitudes have changed over the years.

When I was a dependent (I detest that word) and my husband went to the Republic of Korea, there was no Airman and Family Readiness Center to provide information or support on how to cope with his absence. There were no morale calls so we could talk a couple of times a week and have Uncle Sam pay for it. There was no one to help me budget for those phone calls. There was no such thing as a Hearts Apart Program that could have provided a support network and an opportunity to meet other spouses who were in the same situation.

Thankfully, times have changed. Military families are now accorded the respect I believe they deserve for their sacrifices. Throughout the Air Force, Airman and Family Readiness Centers are staffed with caring people who assist military families with the everyday challenges of life. Every month, the AFRC calendar is packed full of activities and classes with topics ranging from managing finances, job hunting, relocation and readiness.

Military families are the reason the AFRC exists. As far as being dependents, today our military spouses independently keep the family going during times of separation. They pay bills, work inside and often outside the home so that servicemembers can focus on the important job of protecting the nation. Many pursue their education or volunteer to support schools, churches and charitable organizations while moving from place to place, and sometimes country to country. Our military families join these new communities as model citizens, representing a collection of all that is good in our country.