Retreating For Unity

• Promote the organization year-round. While the programs and the organization might be well-known in the community, military families are always on the move. Make sure local installations are aware of all you have to offer. A welcome packet with up-to-date information on programs is a great tool for any new family in the community.

• Be aware that military families are in every community. Even if an organization is not near a military installation, National Guard and Reserve families are a part of communities nationwide. Encourage staff members and volunteers to seek out the military families or children they work with, and recognize the challenges they might be facing with a parent deployed. To better understand the challenges children of military families encounter, download the association’s toolkit at www.militaryfamily.org/toolkits.

• Help facilitate communication by providing families with a supportive and relaxing environment for organic conversation and spontaneous sharing–something military families miss with a deployed service member. This communication can help them “get back on track” as they build cohesion, reconnect, and rediscover what they enjoy about one another.

• Leave politics out of your interactions with military families. In a study by the Army War College, the third-highest factor cited in a child’s well-being was the public’s perception of the war. Adapt a “Families Serve Too” attitude, and recognize their service and sacrifice, no matter what your feelings are about a war.

• Reach out to the local installation, Guard or Reserve unit to determine individual needs. Work together to support local military families. The association hears time and time again that community support is recognized and appreciated by military families.

To learn more about the National Military Family Association and what you can do to support military families, visit www.MilitaryFamily.org.

Bailey Bernius is a public relations specialist for the National Military Family Association. He can be reached via e-mail at bbernius@militaryfamily.org.

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