A feeling of sympathy goes towards the guardians of the community, who willingly work on significant holidays, especially Christmas. There are occasions that a colleague will offer to accept a shift or trade to help EMS, doctors and nurses, and police officer dads and moms celebrate the special day with children. The exception goes to the men and women, who willingly agreed to place country and service before family and self. The obligation of being a member of the United States military is one of sacrifice. Throughout the seasons, special events and important holidays often include one-member absences. Christmas is no exception. Men and women deploy to more than 150 countries around the world, which include more than 165,000 active-duty personnel.
Deployed Men and Women
Not all men and women who deploy are 10-feet deep in a foxhole or sitting in a tent surrounded by thousands of miles of sand. Location, while important, is not the only aspect that aids morale. When you cannot be with your spouse and children, the next best form of comfort is the people who know your strengths and weaknesses as well as understand your emotions and story. The men and women of the unit are a tight-knit group and can help one other make the best of their situation and day. The comedian of the group may walk through the base wearing a reindeer or Santa suit. The one who sings will belt out Christmas carols, hoping others will join in or dance.
Decorations on a ship or in the chow hall help boost festive spirits. Communication tents allow access to video-chats and cram wall-to-wall with as many as will fit. Voices may be at a whisper, but at least loved ones will see home and the faces of the people they love, in addition to the arrival of letters and care packages from home!
Mailing Letters: One stamp (comprising five-sheets-of paper, not including the envelope) will arrive at any military destination with an APO, DPO or FPO address.
The First Deployment Apart
Spouses experience the stages of mourning by surrendering to the sobs and bursts of tears, and carrying plenty of tissues. One message that resonates strongly is to keep moving forward. Amie Houser writes, “It is challenging to transition from a routine of togetherness to a feeling of uncertainty. Deployments can bring us closer together because there is a need to communicate more information and talk about plans. Despite the challenge of being separated, it also helps us to reaffirm ourselves as individuals and get back to who we are. The hardest part is keeping it together when communication doesn’t arrive for days or a few weeks when he is out in the field.”
Helping Military Members and Families
A great way to give back to military families for the holidays is to reach out to neighbors and social media. You’ll be surprised how many friends and colleagues have a loved one overseas. Consider sending letters or care packages. Other ways to help are to:
- Contact a local USO office to see how you can assist in the many programs, which may include toy and food drives, and dinners.
- “Laying Wreaths Across America” has a chapter locally. Reach out to see how you or your family can help.
- Join a “blanket drive” to send to a wounded soldier or veteran in VA Hospitals. While you may be late to meet the deadline for 2019, reach out to assist 2020’s goal.
- Another helpful idea is to pray daily for the safety of all military members and their families!
A deployment rarely abides the timeframe of projected days. A four-month mission could last six months, but rarely three. Families rarely know the date a spouse will return due to delays in orders and travel plans. “Hurry-up and wait” is the best description associated with the end of a deployment. A reunion is an emotional relief to exhale and accept his or her anticipated return. Military spouses, children and loved ones know how lucky they are in the gift of physical presence and the ability to offer tight hugs!