The Christmas Season is here!
Helping our Nation’s Military & Their Families in Their Local Communities
David Barton – 11/2002 The tradition of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back almost four centuries in America. While such celebrations occurred at Cape Henry Virginia as early as 1607, it is from the Pilgrims that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving.
The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. After disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they had a prayer service and began building hasty shelters, but unprepared for a harsh New England winter, nearly half died before spring. Yet, persevering in prayer, and assisted by helpful Indians, they reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer. The grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends America’s first Thanksgiving Festival. This began an annual tradition in the New England Colonies that slowly spread into other Colonies.
The first national Thanksgiving occurred in 1789. According to the Congressional Record for September 25 of that year, immediately after approving the Bill of Rights: Mr. [Elias] Boudinot said he could not think of letting the [congressional] session pass without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution:
“Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. . . .”
Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving, on any single event, not only as a laudable one in itself but also as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ. . . . This example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion.
The resolution was delivered to President George Washington, who heartily concurred with the congressional request, declaring:
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor. . . . Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.“
National Thanksgiving Proclamations occurred sporadically following this one, and most official Thanksgiving observances still occurred only at the State level. Much of the credit for the adoption of an annual national Thanksgiving may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. For over twenty years, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, contacting President after President until Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November, declaring:
“We are prone to forget the Source from which [the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies] come. . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God. . . . I do, therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States . . . to observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens.“
For the next seventy-five years, Presidents followed Lincoln is precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. Then, in 1941, Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday.
As you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this year, remember to retain the original gratefulness to God that has always been the spirit of this, the oldest of all American holidays. [Congress] recommended [a day of]
“. . . thanksgiving and praise [so] that the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and join . . . their supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ to forgive [our sins] and . . .to enlarge [His] kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Continental Congress, 1777 – Written by Signers of the Declaration Samuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee)
[I] “appoint . . . a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God. . . to [ask] Him that He would . . . pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would . . . spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; . . . and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue. “(Governor Thomas Jefferson, 1779)
Keep in mind that most businesses require proof of military service, which can include a VA Universal Access Card, Military I.D., DD-214 (Discharge Papers), Veterans Service Organization Card (VSO’s include groups like the VFW, DAV, AmVets, MOAA, FRA, and the American Legion), or in some cases businesses will accept a picture of the veteran in uniform.
Note: Not all franchise locations participate in their national chain’s Veterans Day programs — be sure contact your nearest establishment to make sure they are participating. Make sure to visit the Military.com Discounts Center for more discounts and articles. And sign up for the Military Deals and Discounts Newsletter to get even more discounts and information in your inbox on how Military Families can save big.
54th Street Grill — Veterans and active duty military get a free meal (up to $12) on Tuesday, November 11.
Applebee’s — Veterans and active duty military receive a free meal from a limited menu, on Veterans Day, Tuesday, November 11.
*NEW* Bob Evans — Veterans and active military personnel receive free all-you-can-eat hotcakes on Tuesday, November 11.
*NEW* Cheeseburger in Paradise — Active and retired military personnel receive a complimentary All-American Burger with fries onTuesday, November 11.
Claim Jumper — On Monday, November 10, all Claim Jumper locations will provide veterans with a complimentary meal from a special menu.
Friendly’s – Friendly’s is treating veterans and active military to a free breakfast, lunch or dinner from a limited menu on Veterans Day,Tuesday, November 11.
Golden Corral — Golden Corral Restaurants’ Military Appreciation Monday free dinner will be available on Monday, November 17, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Military retirees, veterans, active duty, National Guard and Reserves are all welcome.
*NEW* JJ’s Red Hots – Veterans and active duty military get with an unlimited free meal on Tuesday, November 11.
Long Horn Steakhouse – Veterans and current service members receive a complimentary Texas Tonion appetizer and non-alcoholic beverage from a select menu on Tuesday, November 11.
McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants — On Sunday, November 9, participating McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants will offer a complimentary entree to veterans from a special menu.
Olive Garden – On Tuesday, November 11, all veterans and current service members get a free meal from a limited menu.
On the Border — Veterans and active duty military can enjoy a free meal from the “Create Your Own Combo menu” on Tuesday, November 11.
*NEW* Outback Steakhouse – All active and former service members receive a free Bloomin’ Onion and a beverage on November 11. Outback is also offering active and former service members 15% off their meals Nov. 12 through Dec. 31.
Pinnacle Entertainment — Veterans and active duty military get a free meal at select casinos on Tuesday, November 11.
Red Hot & Blue — Veterans receive a free entrée with the purchase of a second entrée on November 10, 11 and 12. Coupon required.
Red Lobster — Veterans, retired and active-duty military personnel receive a complimentary appetizer from a limited menu from Monday, November 10 to Thursday, November 13.
Shoney’s — Shoney’s will be offering a free All-American Burger to veterans and active duty service members on Tuesday, November 11.
Sizzler — Sizzler offers active duty and veteran military members a free lunch from a limited menu on Tuesday, November 11 until 4 p.m.
Texas Roadhouse — Texas Roadhouse locations nationwide will offer veterans a free lunch on Tuesday, November 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Offer is good for active duty, retired or former U.S. military.
Travel Centers of America — On Tuesday, November 11, all CDL drivers who are military veterans eat free at participating full-service restaurants.
Zoes Kitchen – Active duty military and veterans get a free entrée, and family members get 10% off on November 11.
Army Corp of Engineers Recreation Areas — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will waive day use fees for veterans, active and reserve component service members, and their families at the USACE-operated recreation areas nationwide on November 11.
Busch Gardens — Veterans and active duty military can get 50% off single-day admission tickets through November 11.
Colonial Williamsburg – Active duty military, reservists, retirees, veterans, and their direct dependents receive free Colonial Williamsburg admission for Veterans Day weekend (November 7–11).
Harley-Davidson Museum — The Harley-Davidson Museum is offering free admission to military members and families on November 8, 9, and 11 in honor of Veterans Day.
Jefferson Lines — Jefferson Lines offers free travel to veterans onTuesday, November 11.
*NEW* Kingsmill Resort – Veterans and active duty military enjoy a 25% discount off regular room rates on stays from November 7 to 13.
Knotts Berry Farm — Knott’s Berry Farm is offering free admission for veterans and active duty military personnel and one guest fromNovember 2, 2014 to January 4, 2015.
Mariners’ Museum — Active duty and retired military, veterans and their families receive $5 off admission price Saturday, November 8 to Tuesday, November 11.
Mohegan Sun — Mohegan Sun offers active and retired military members a special hotel $99.00 room rate available from Monday, November 10 to Thursday, November 13.
*NEW* Mount Vernon — All active duty, former, or retired military personnel are admitted for free on Veterans Day, November 11.
National Parks — On Veterans Day, November 11, veterans will have access to over 100 National Parks that require entrance fees for free.
Professional Association of Innkeeping International — Inns and B&Bs throughout the country will open their doors to thank veterans for their service on Monday, November 10 and Tuesday, November 11with free or discounted stays.
Queen Mary — The Queen Mary offers free admission to active service members, retired military personnel, veterans and special discounts for their family members on November 11.
SeaWorld — Veterans and active duty military can get 50% off single-day admission tickets through November 11.
Sesame Place — Veterans and active duty military can get 50% off single-day admission tickets through November 11.
Grace for Vets — Car washes from around the world who join this program offer free car washes to veterans and service members onTuesday, November 11.
Great Clips – On Tuesday, November 11, customers who come in for a service can get a free haircut card to give to their favorite veteran. Veterans can also receive a free haircut or get the free haircut card. Haircuts are redeemable until Dec. 31.
Home Depot — Home Depot offers a 10% discount to all veterans on Veterans Day November 11. Home Depot offers the 10% discount year round to for active duty and retirees.
Lowe’s — All veterans receive a 10% discount on Veterans Day,November 11. The offer is available in stores only.
Rack Room Shoes — Military personnel and their dependents get a 10% discount off entire purchase on Veteran’s Day, November 11.
Sleep Number — From October 14 through November 16, Sleep Number is providing special offers for current and past military personnel. Save $400-$700 on selected Sleep Number mattress sets.
Sport Clips — Participating locations are offering veterans and active duty service members free haircuts on Tuesday, November 11.
Steve Madden — Steve Madden is offering 20% off the entire purchase with a valid military ID on November 11.
America’s Parade — Veterans are invited to march in this New York City parade on November 11. The theme for this year’s Parade is Land of the Free/Home of the Brave, in honor of the 200th Anniversary of the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Cabela’s — Cabela’s hosts a Hometown Heroes event on Veterans Day, November 11 with an increased discount for military personnel as well as Law-Enforcement, Firefighters and Emergency Medical Service personnel.
Letters from War: A Tribute to Veterans — On November 7 at 7 PM, the Washington National Cathedral presents a 75-minute concert tribute featuring the U.S. Marine Corps Orchestra, Washington National Cathedral Choir and selections from American War Letters. This tribute event is free and open to the public with no ticketing required.
National Veterans Day Ceremony — The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held on November 11 at Arlington National Cemetery. It begins at 11:00 AM with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors.
There are many national and state cemeteries throughout the country that may also be holding Veterans Day ceremonies. Click here for a cemetery listing.
NFL Salute to Service – To honor Veterans Day, the NFL will donate $100 to each of its non-profit partners (the Pat Tillman Foundation, USO and Wounded Warrior Project) for every point scored during the 32 Salute to Service games.
FORT MEADE, Md. (Army News Service, Nov. 6, 2014) — Many restaurants and retailers are offering Veterans Day discounts or free meals to service members and veterans. Some offers even extend to family members.
National Parks and Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas are waiving entrance fees for veterans, service members and their families Nov. 11.
Most commercial establishments require proof of military service such as a military ID card or current leave and earnings statement, a driver’s license with veteran’s designation, DD 214 discharge paperwork, a veteran’s organization card or a photograph in uniform. Many of the companies offering deals are franchises, and officials recommend calling ahead to verify participation of specific locations, along with dates and times of the offers. The following list was primarily compiled by military community services staff members and does not claim to be all-inclusive:
— 7 – Eleven: Veterans, active members of the U.S. military and their immediate families can stop by 7-Eleven on Veterans Day and get a free small Slurpee drink. Just bring proof of current or former U.S. military service to participating stores.
— Applebee Restaurants: A free meal will be provided to all active or retired service members and veterans. Proof of service is required. Locations can be checked at www.applebees.com.
— Bar Louie: Active-duty military members and veterans can receive a free meal, up to $10 in value, and a free non-alcoholic beverage on Nov. 11. Military ID or proof of service is required.
— BD’s Mongolian Grill: Nov. 5-11: Service members can get half off on the purchase of stir-fry with a valid military ID, but only at participating locations.
— Bed Bath & Beyond: Service members can receive 20 percent off their entire purchase Nov 9, 10 and 11, in-store only. U.S. military ID required at time of purchase.
— Big Lots: A discount of 10 percent on entire purchase is being offered to active-duty military, Guard/Reserve, veterans, retirees and their immediate family members, with a valid ID.
— BJ’s Restaurant: Free lunch entree or free one-topping mini pizza at dinner is being offered.
— Buckle: Military receive 10 percent off online purchases every day at Buckle.com, plus for a limited time, they can take advantage of Buckle’s special offer and get a free t-shirt when they spend $100 or more on Affliction, American Customs, or Sinful branded merchandise at http://www.buckle.com.
— Buy Buy Baby: A discount of 20 percent on entire purchase is offered Nov. 9, 10 and 11, in-store only. US military ID required at time of purchase.
— Cabela’s: The store’s standard employee discount is offered to all U.S. military veterans, active-duty military, Guard/Reserve, law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services personnel. Discounts varies from 5 percent to 20 percent, depending on the item.
— California Pizza Kitchen: A free meal and non-alcoholic beverage is offered to veterans and active military with valid ID or proof of service.
— Champps: On Veterans Day, all veterans and active-duty military will receive a free burger (excluding the Pepperjack Bacon Stack Burger and The Kobe Burger). Please visit Champps Facebook page for more information.
— Cheeseburger in Paradise: A free meal from a select menu is available with military ID or proof of service. Beverages and gratuity not included.
— Christmas Tree Shops: Discount of 20 percent off entire purchase is offered Nov. 9, 10 and 11, in-store only. U.S. military ID required at time of purchase.
— Chilis: Free entree available to veterans and active- duty military from 11 a.m. -5 p.m. on Veterans Day.
— Cost Plus World Market: A discount of 20 percent off entire in-store purchase available to U.S. military. ID required at time of purchase.
— Delta Sonic Car Wash: Free Super Kiss Car Washes and free oil changes offered to all military veterans and active service men and women on Nov. 11. Customers simply need to tell the car wash cashier or oil change technician that they are active or a veteran of the armed forces.
— Denny’s: Get free all-you-can-eat pancakes at participating Denny’s restaurants.
— Dollar General: Discount of 10 percent offered on entire purchase on Veterans Day. Offer good for all active-duty military, retirees, veterans, Guard/Reserve, and immediate family members. The coupon can be found in the store circular, or by asking an employee. Also good online. Use Coupon Code VETERANSDAY.
— Face Values Discount Health & Beauty: Discount of 20 percent offered Nov. 9, 10 & 11 off entire purchase, in-store only. U.S. military ID required at time of purchase.
— Famous Dave’s: Participating locations are offering different meal deals for current or retired military on Veterans Day.
— Food Lion: Discount of 12 percent offered on groceries (some exclusions) for active and retired military personnel with a military ID and MVP card.
— Fox & Hound and Bailey’s Sports Bar: Veterans and active-duty military will receive a free item from the 7 under $7 menu. Active military ID, retiree card, or other proof of service required.
— Free Car wash. More than a thousand locations around the country are offering vets a free car wash on Veterans Day, coordinated by the Grace for Vets program. Businesses are participating in all 50 states and includes 467 carwash companies representing 1,181 carwash locations. Find a list at the “Grace for Vets” website.
— Golden Corral: Restaurants will host their military appreciation with a meal at no cost for all military active, retired and veterans. No proof is required to enjoy this buffet meal. Guests of veterans will have to pay the regular meal price. No take outs. Officials recommend contacting locations to find out their specific deal hours.
— Great Clips: On Nov. 11 customers who come in for service can get a free haircut card to give to their favorite veteran. Veterans can also receive a free haircut or get the free haircut card. Haircuts are redeemable until Dec. 31.
— Grizzly Industrial: A discount of 5 percent off all purchases is offered to active, veteran and retired military personnel from Nov. 11-28 at grizzlyindustrial.com.
— Home Depot: Offering all active-duty personnel, reservists, retired military, veterans and their families a 10-percent discount off their purchases in honor of Veteran’s Day. The offer is valid on purchases of up to $2,000 for a maximum of $200 off and is available at The Home Depot stores, The Home Depot Design Center locations, Yardbirds and EXPO Design Center(R) locations.
— Hooters: A free meal of 10 hot wings available to military veterans and service members all day on Veterans Day at participating Hooters restaurants. A drink purchase is required.
— Hy-Vee: A free Veterans Day breakfast is available from 7 a.m. — 11 a.m. at all Hy-Vee supermarkets with in-store dining. Please call ahead to verify participation, and bring proof of service.
— JC Penny: Veterans, active-duty military and family members can receive an extra 20 percent off in stores Nov. 6-11 with coupon.
— Knott’s Berry Farms: Free admission to the park is offered to veterans or current serving military and one guest, with proper I.D. presented at turnstile. The eligible person must be present. Dependent I.D.s will not be accepted. Up to six additional tickets can also be purchased for $19.00 each.
— Krispy Kreme: A free doughnut and small coffee available only at participating Krispy Kreme stores. Offer available to all active-duty, retirees & veterans on Nov. 11.
— Little Caesars Pizza: U.S. military and vets get a free order of Crazy Bread, with proof of military status/service. Call local Little Caesars to make sure they are participating in this deal.
— Lone Star Steakhouse: All veterans and active-duty military will receive a free entrée from the Stars & Stripes Menu. ID required.
— Long Horn Steakhouse: Complimentary Texas Tonion and non-alcoholic beverage available for veterans and active-duty military members.
— Lowe’s Military Discount: Lowe’s Companies, Inc. will offer all active, reserve, honorably discharged, retired military personnel and their immediate family members a 10-percent discount on in-store U.S. purchases made during the Veterans Day holiday. The discount is available on in-stock and special order purchases up to $5,000. To qualify, individuals must present a valid military ID or other proof of service. Excluded from the discount are sales via Lowes.com, previous sales, and purchases of services or gift cards.
— LYMY: Discount of 15 percent off on exclusive Love You Miss You t-shirts and hats offered to veterans, reservists, National Guard, active-duty military and their families at www.lymy.com.
— Max & Erma’s: Participating Max & Erma’s locations are offering military members and veterans a free Best Cheeseburger in America Combo, which includes tortilla soup or side Caesar salad, seasoned fries, and chocolate chip cookies.
— McCormick & Schmick’s: Complimentary lunch or dinner is offered at participating restaurants to veterans. Verification of service is required (retired ID card or DD214). McCormick & Schmick’s highly encourages reservations for the Veterans Appreciation Event as tables fill up quickly for this event each year.
— Massage Envy: Participating locations in the Washington, D.C, Maryland, and northern Virginia region are offering a complimentary one-hour massage to active military, veterans and spouses on Nov. 11.
— Menchie’s Free Frozen Yogurt: On Veterans Day, veterans and active-duty personnel get a free 6 oz. frozen yogurt. Show a valid ID or be in uniform to receive.
— Musician’s Friend: Discount of 15 percent off one item of $199 value or more available for veterans, reservists, National Guard, active-duty and their immediate family members at http://www.musiciansfriend.com.
— National Parks: Fee-free days offered to all visitors at more than 100 national parks that usually charge entrance fees. And making the fun even more affordable, many national park concessioners are joining the National Park Service in welcoming visitors with their own special offers.
— Newegg: From Nov. 1 to Nov. 21, Newegg is offering 10 percent off purchases site-wide (up to $20) to all military, veterans and their family members verified through SheerID on Newegg.com.
— Olive Garden: Veterans and active -duty military get a free meal on Veterans Day. With proof of service, choose from a special menu with breadsticks and a choice of soup or salad.
— On The Border: “Sizzling Salute to Veterans” promotion. Mention this special, and On the Border will donate 15 percent of your purchase to Carry the Load, a non-profit military organization. Veterans and service members with ID who dine at On The Border will receive a certificate for a free entree (up to $10) valid at corporate locations only.
— Outback Steakhouse: As an expression of Outback Steakhouse’s appreciation to s veterans and active-duty military, a free Bloomin’ Onion and Coca Cola will be available to them at every Outback in the country.
— Paciugo Gelato Caffe: Paciugo will thank the nation’s veterans and troops on Veterans Day with a free 12-oz gelatte. Military guests will need to provide proof of military service.
— Recreation Areas: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will waive day use fees for veterans, active and reserve-component service members, and their families at the more than 2,200 USACE-operated recreation areas nationwide on Nov. 11. The waiver includes fees for boat launch ramps and swimming beaches, but not camping or fees for specialized facilities such as group picnic shelters. See http://www.army.mil/article/137102.
— Red Lobster: Free appetizer available on Veterans Day with military ID or proof of service. Vets may choose from a select list of appetizers.
— Red Robin. Free Red’s Tavern Double and Bottomless Steak Fries for all Red Robin guests with a military ID or proof of service. Red Robin is also partnering with Heinz for Veterans Day to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. Red Robin will also donate $10,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project.
— Pirate’s Dinner Adventure: Nov. 8-11, veterans and active military can have a free admission with each paid admission. Valid at California locations only. Call 866 439-2469 to make reservation, and mention “Veterans Free”.
— Shoney’s: The All-American Burger is offered free to all veterans and active-duty military on Veterans Day.
— Sizzler: Veterans and military can show proof of service to get a free 6-oz steak entree with the purchase of a second one.
— Sports Authority: All Veterans and military personnel can stop at their local Sports Authority store to receive 15 percent off their entire purchase.
— Sport Clips: Offers a Heroes discount for active and retired military. Please call ahead to verify participation.
— Steve Madden: Doubling everyday military discounts of 15 percent to 30 percent off for veteran’s Day. Valid with a form of Military identification (past or present) in Steve Madden stores only (not valid online) for full-priced merchandise only.
— Subway: Select Subway locations offer a free six-inch sub to military veterans on Veteran’s Day. However, Subway restaurants are franchises, so this offer may not be available everywhere. Please call ahead.
— Texas Corral: A free entrée is available to all active -duty members and veterans with ID (dine-in only). Note: All Texas Corral locations also regularly offer a 50 percent discount to active-duty police officers, firemen and military personnel dining in.
— Texas Roadhouse: Free lunch offered, but hours vary by location. Officials recommend calling ahead for more information.
— T.G.I. Friday’s: Free Lunch offered for all U.S. military and veterans. Uniforms should be worn, if permitted by the service, or military ID (old or current) can be shown.
– The AARP: From Oct. 30 to Nov. 13, anyone can join the American Association of Retired Persons with 20 percent off membership dues, and when a new membership is purchased, AARP will use a portion of the dues to help provide Real-Pad computer tablets to veterans to help them stay connected. AARP also offers 20 percent off year-round memberships solely for men and women of the military who are 50-plus years of age, including veterans, active-duty, retirees, National Guard, Army Reserve, and military spouses.
— The Olive Garden: A free entrée offered to veterans and active-duty military during regular business hours. Choose from a special menu; all entrées include freshly baked garlic sticks and choice of soup or salad. Offer good in U.S. and Canada with proof of service.
— Travel Centers of America: Anyone with a commercial driver’s license who is also a veteran can eat a meal free on Veterans Day at participating full-service restaurants with proof of service. –
– Tucanos Brazilian Grill: All active-duty, reserve and retired military and veterans receive a complimentary Churrasco meal on Veterans Day. Veterans and troops who dine with their families also get 10 percent off their entire bill from Nov. 8 through Nov. 11.
— Twin Peaks: A free entrée is available to service men and women (up to $10). Good for veterans and active service personnel with valid ID or proof of service. Dine in only; gratuity not included.
— Uno Chicago Grill: Free individual pizza or entrée offered with the purchase of a pizza or entrée of equal or greater value. Available for all active-duty military and veterans. No coupon necessary; proof of service required.
— Virginia lodging: Hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, and inns across Virginia are offering special rates, reductions and promotions for Veterans Day. See the Vacation in Virginia website.
By Karen Parrish DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2014 – November in America traditionally is a month of thankfulness, and the Defense Department chose this month to recognize those who support the nation’s armed forces but who don’t wear the uniform: military families.
Barbara Thompson directs the department’s Office of Family Policy, Children and Youth, and Special Needs. She recently spoke with DoD News about Military Family Month and why it matters.
“In November, we take the time to draw attention to and highlight the great sacrifices and support that military families offer our men and women in the armed forces,” she said.
Thompson’s office oversees programs and policies that promote military families’ well-being and quality of life. Thompson’s portfolio covers a range of military family concerns, from child development programs to spouse career development, personal financial readiness and nonmedical counseling.
DoD Honors Military Families
Senior Pentagon officials will participate throughout the month in events designed to honor military families, Thompson said, and the military services, installations and family support centers also will be working to recognize military families.
“There will be a lot of events and special recognitions,” she added.
Thompson noted that the modern military family mirrors the modern American family — some families are blended, some have single parents, others consist of unmarried or same-sex couples, and still others have special needs.
“Just like the American family, we have all different shapes and sizes. … They all comprise this fabric of military families,” she said.
Families contribute to the U.S. military’s strong, resilient and ready force and to their communities as well, Thompson said.
“When we think of our military members and the values that they embody, such as courage and duty and ethics and loyalty, those same attributes are key to our military family members,” she noted.
Thompson said the department considers military families an integral part of the force.
“We like to say that military families serve, too,” she said. “Because without the support … that they provide the active-duty force and the reserve component force, it would be very difficult for service members to do their mission.”
She continued, “I like to think that military families are right there, throughout the greatest challenges as well as right there during the greatest triumphs of the service member.”
Military Families Are Your Neighbors
The department can’t be everything to everyone, she noted, “So we rely on the community assets where our service members and their families live — whether the faith-based community or the school community.”
Military families in communities across America typically live, shop, go to school and worship with their neighbors. According to recent statistics from the Defense Manpower Data Center, 61 percent of all service members live in off-base housing, and 70 percent of married troops live off base.
“So that community needs to recognize the sacrifices that military families make,” Thompson said. She noted that November is “the perfect month for them to reach out and thank our military families for their sacrifice and what they do to support our nation.”
“They have challenges such as caring for aging parents, they may have children with special needs, they relocate on a much more stringent schedule than their civilian counterparts, so children are changing schools and adapting to new environments,” Thompson said. “And I think America at large needs to recognize that, and to reach out, and step up, and thank them for their service.”