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Offer support for military families during and after the holidays

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By Theresa Howard

Tradition tells us the holidays stand for family gatherings, good food, and gift giving and receiving. The realities of the holiday season often include increased social activity and obligations, along with heightened expectations and anticipation. For many Kentucky families, especially those with a loved one serving in the United States military, this can lead to unhealthy levels of stress. For a military spouse juggling the additional demands of the holidays, community support can be especially important during this time of increased vulnerability due to family separation.  

A number of ways exist for communities and civilian families to support our military families. Personal contact can go a long way toward dispelling overwhelming feelings of being alone. Make a point to check on families regularly with a phone call. Offer to watch children for an afternoon or evening. Invite the family to join your family in a holiday activity and encourage them to accept. Sponsor an outing with the purchase of movie tickets or a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant. Lend an ear to children and their solo parent or caregiver and validate their feelings if they need to talk. Take the initiative and ask how you can help.   

National Guard and Reserve families are in every community in our state. Contact a military base, National Guard, or Reserves to connect with other resources and to find opportunities to support the families of our service members. You can also contact Operation: Military Kids at http://operationmilitarykids.org.

OMK is a grant through Family and Consumer Sciences extension that partners with national, state and local groups and organizations to reach out to and support military families in Kentucky through social and educational programs. They provide training and resources to assist anyone who wants to help or learn more about supporting military families.