Err in the direction of kindness.
- George Saunders
Life as the spouse of a deployed soldier can be overwhelming. As I wrote about in my previous post, at time it seems like everything breaks while your soldier is away.
The community supporting military families needs to be aware of this and take steps to make sure those left at home have the help they need as they need it.
Reaching out to the family of a deployed soldier can seem tricky. Often this isn’t a first deployment and everything appears–from the outside–to be running with military precision. It’s important for us to dig a little deeper, searching for opportunities to help. I’m not suggesting you get nosy or pushy, but there are ways to offer help that are more likely to be accepted:
The best way to offer is to be specific (more on that in a moment). It’s easy to say no when someone asks if there’s anything they can do to help. It’s much harder to say no when someone offers to cut the grass or watch the kids on a particular day.
Don’t get discouraged if your offer of help isn’t accepted the first time. Keep asking the military family and chances are you’ll discover a real opportunity to serve.
Sometimes it’s hard to think of things to offer. Here are some specific options I’ve found are almost universally helpful.
You Can Offer...
...To Watch the Kids.
It doesn’t have to be a long time. But getting a chance to get away with friends, without the responsibility of being the mom or dad, is a huge gift.
...To Bring a Meal.
And I don’t mean just when someone’s been sick. Life goes on these days at a hectic pace. Not having to deal with dinner-making decisions occasionally can be a huge lift to the spirits.
...To Help Around the House.
This could be in the form of mowing the grass, doing odd jobs, organizing a painting day to spruce up a room. Truthfully the options are limitless, and so needed. Because, let’s face it, the grass still grows, even during deployment!
...To Provide Some Company.
With a soldier deployed, home can be a lonely place at times. Offer to invade with some friends and hold a family game or movie night.
These are just a few things that can help a military family cope during the stress of deployment. If you’re part of a military family, please chime in with some of the ways others have reached out to you. If you support a military family, share the ways they’ve been helped. Te sure to leave your comments in the section below.
Edie Melson is a leading professional in the publishing industry. She also knows what it’s like to send a loved one off to war. Her oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corp boot camp, to Iraq; where he served two tours fighting on the front lines as an infantry Marine. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.