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Support for military families back home




uring the holidays, national attention often turns to supporting our military men and women celebrating in lands far from home. In our generous spirit, let''s be sure to include support for their loved ones still at home. The recent decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan leaves thousands of families to face New Year deployments, as everyday Americans search for ways to help military families separated by eight years of war. 


Here is a top five list of ways that ordinary citizens can help ease the burden and stress of deployment and separation, courtesy of the non-profit National Military Family Association. 




  • Connect and invite. Often, people in civilian families hesitate to reach out to a military family because they don''t know what to say. Military families are like the rest of us - you may not understand all the things military families face in a time of war, but you do understand the way friendships and community enrich our lives. Reach out, connect to a military family and invite them to coffee or dinner. 


  • Ask, "How can I help?" Military families are strong, healthy and determined. They''re also stressed by multiple deployments and the strain of extended absences. A simple offer of help can mean so much to a single soldier or a "suddenly single" mom or dad whose spouse is serving overseas. If you''re a neighbor, a friend, or connected some way to a military family, offer to help during this holiday season. Don''t be surprised when your offer is accepted. 


  • Lend an ear. Deployments are especially difficult on teenagers. Military teens shoulder a lot of additional responsibilities and are faced with some strong emotions at a pivotal time in their lives. But remember, they are like other teens. They want to fit in, make friends and have fun. Listen to what they have to say and be a role model. Share your gifts and joyous holiday spirit. 


  • Encourage! People choose to serve our country in many different ways. Families in the military are honored to dedicate themselves to protecting America and Americans. Although service can be tough, military families are proud of the difference they make. During the holidays more than ever, encourage our military families with gratitude and camaraderie. Military families are serving you, too. 


  • Learn more about the people protecting your freedoms.  


    Visit -- the web site of the National Military Family Association. You''ll find a link to download the groundbreaking new study on military children from the RAND Corporation (as well as many resources for and about military families). 




      Joyce Raezer, Alexandria, Va. 


      The writer is executive director of the National Military Family Association. 




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