Let’s face it, we don’t always agree personally with the political stands that our government sends our military to face and fight and defend for us. Sometimes we are completely on board. Other times, we wonder why we aren’t already doing something. Guess what, those who are in the military agree with all of the above! However they have decided that whatever the personal cost to them, whether it be time away from family, low pay, and the ever constant fact that they have taken an oath saying they will die for our country if that’s what it comes down to- they are willing and ready to do so.
Being raised in the military, ministering to military women as a missionary, and marrying a man in the military the transition to official civilian life was eye opening to me. It seems to me that while most civilians are aware that a military exists, because it doesn’t touch their lives- it’s difficult for them to know how to respond and how to support. I don’t think most people mean to be unsupportive so much as it is that they don’t know how to actively support and are afraid of offending. So here are some helpful suggestions for how to respond and support in the spirit of charity.
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. We could all take a lesson from Thumper’s mother in the movie Bambi. Tell them you love them, tell them to be as safe as possible, thank them for being willing to stand up and be counted as someone willing to be called upon for their country. Discouraging words, hate, political banter, trying to persuade them not to go (which, by the way, isn’t an option)- none of that makes any difference and might actually harm and distract the person who will be in a position of possible danger. Please, for their sake, give them a break and love them as best you can. Negative words will not accomplish a single thing except to harm the ones you want safe.
- Remember the service men’s/woman’s families. Mow lawns, shovel walk ways, babysit, arrange play dates, invite them for meals and holidays. Find out and remember important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries and do something special if it’s appropriate. It means the world to a military family and especially the service member who isn’t located near relatives to know that their loved ones aren’t alone and that there are good people watching out for them, hugging, celebrating and struggling even at times alongside of them.
- Write a quick email or letter if they come to mind to let them know you thought of them. It doesn’t have to be long. Knowing there are people at home thinking of you and praying for you is a big encouragement. Plus, have you ever seen an email from a military member? Short, monosyllabic, to the point and done. No pressure to write even a full paragraph if you don’t have the time. Care packages are also awesome if you want to make them really happy.
- Stand up for them if you hear someone else talking in a manner that is discouraging and hurtful. These people might somewhere deep down care, but they are acting in selfishness on some level every time they tear down a service member. It usually doesn’t take much if you come from a caring, gentle but firm position.
- You may not be able to be there in person to watch over them, but you aren’t off the hook as a comrade in arms. Pray for their safety, their health, their spiritual life, their prayer life, their struggles, their sins, their ability to get to confession and mass, their ability to see and serve God making an impact on those around them. If you need something a little more specific, Thessalonians has a great scripture to pray over them as the armor of God.
The opinions expressed by the DPS blog authors and those providing comments are theirs alone; they are not necessarily the expressions or beliefs of either the Dead Philosophers Society or Holy Apostles College & Seminary.