Bringing the War Home – How Spouses and Children Serve, Too

Recently, I received an email urging me to discuss something that I think holds a keen relevance to the current situation our country is in. The battle that the families of deployed soldiers fight daily while the world continues to move on around them is an under-appreciated topic. I think we often overlook the amount of energy the wives, husbands, children and families of active duty soldiers spend supporting their loved ones’ efforts, let alone just trying to get along each day. While the cameras of news stations are constantly rolling in the Middle East, bringing us visions of destruction and turmoil, the families of those soldiers are left to fill in the blanks and pick up the pieces of their own lives, while pushing forward for their loved ones.

There are no camera vans parked outside their homes, no front-page headlines and no recurring top stories on the evening news covering their efforts. And yet they are doing so much to serve their country here, while their family members serve thousands of miles away.

The extent to which spouses and children lend their creativity and skill to supporting their country is astounding, especially in a time when the waters are anything but still. These home front soldiers organize charity walks and events, hold informational meetings, provide support and comfort to others in similar situations and reach out to their communities in ways the average American wouldn’t even consider. They are full-time American patriots…and that’s just their side job.

They live two lives: a “normal” life and a soldier’s family life. The “normal” life consists of school, work, having lunch with friends, taking the dog for a walk, making dinner and standing in line at the grocery store among a plethora of other mundane details.

The other life is engulfed in planning, budgeting for events, making phone calls, creating flyers, email blasts and invitations, talking to vendors and finding loans all while raising children as a single parent or battling loneliness in a large and empty house. The war these families face may not be on a battlefield, but the turmoil they harbor is likely similar on some scale.

Whether or not this is news to you, there are things you can do to help support these struggling Americans:

  • Participate in events that support our troops’ return home, or that support them while they are away from their families.
  • Donate your time or available resources to a local spouse support organization, either by helping distribute flyers or volunteering at a local walk or event.
  • Donate your skills to organizations supporting the efforts of military families, i.e. offer free accounting services or financial advice, or volunteer your graphic design talents to help create posters and other advertising materials.
  • If you have the means, the next time you see a soldier out to dinner with his or her family, pick up the tab. It is an easy way to show your support for the efforts of the family as a whole.

No matter what you do, remember that the spouses, children and families of active American soldiers are fighting a battle of their own, one that goes unnoticed by most. They are the remnants of a war many Americans don’t see or feel, but they feel it every day.

Take notice. Lend a helping hand. It makes a world of a difference.

Katy Cryns Staff Writer