For all the amazing companies, businesses, and organizations that support military families, there are plenty similar entities, people even, who do not. And sadly, I'm not surprised.
Take, for example, Penelope Trunk's recent post entitled "Veteran's Day Should Be Cancelled" -- a post I unfortunately learned about from fellow mom blogger and The Stir blogger Julie Marsh, herself a former Air Force Officer who wrote a spot-on rebuttal.
I won't detail Trunk's ridiculous arguments for why she thinks the recent holiday should be canceled, but suffice it to say that she's speaking out of her ass. Because until you've seen first hand how military service affects the personnel themselves and their families, you just have no idea.
Since moving to Atlanta a few years ago, I quickly learned that this is not a military-friendly town. That doesn't mean people aren't appreciative of the service that our military (including my husband) provide for this country. But considering there's only a Reserve base in the Atlanta metro area, few civilians are exposed to full-time military personnel. And because of that, I think they don't have a full understanding of what military service involves, especially for the families who often need the most support from their community.
Take the fact that most places of business around town that do offer a military discount only give it to the active family member. I suppose it's nice to get a couple of dollars off my husband's ticket when we go to the Georgia Aquarium, but what happens when he's away? Aren't we serving too?
I realize that's a small complaint, but here are a few experiences that have really bothered me:
1. When we first moved here, we decided to register our daughter, then 3, for preschool. We paid a hefty deposit about four months prior to the school year starting, and then learned that my husband was being activated for C-130 training in Little Rock, Arkansas. Pregnant with our third at the time, I decided that it would be best for our family to temporarily move there. In most military-savvy areas, personnel with active orders can provide such documentation to a school and gain at least a partial refund, if not a full one -- especially given that the school year was still a couple of months away and they could have easily filled the spot; it was hardly an inconvenience. On the contrary, the school refused -- keeping almost $500 of our money.
2. During my husband's 45-day deployment to Afghanistan, my daughter attended a full-day kindergarten program. Her school and teacher were aware that one of their students had a father in a combat zone, but only after my suggestion did they even think to have the class send him cards. I can't think of a better opportunity for the students to learn about everything from military service to writing a letter! And, instead of the school sending them, the teacher sent my daughter home with 15 cards for me to send myself. Unfortunately, he never got them because by the time she sent them home, he had already returned.
3. I learned that a local, family-run Christian bagel shop that I personally frequented quite often refused to offer a military discount to customers, even when one of their full-time employees' husband was deployed to Iraq. "What do they do?" an owner was overheard asking her when she mentioned that along with giving police officers a 50 percent discount on food, they should consider giving military folks a small discount to show appreciation.
None of these experiences are anywhere close to discrimination, but they certainly show a level of ignorance. I do believe that military enlisted and officers as well as their family should get special treatment. Regardless of whether they were deployed or not, their service keeps this country safe. Just because there isn't an active base around and we don't see officers day in and day out in their uniforms doesn't mean that we shouldn't be appreciative and supportive of the military. And it certainly doesn't mean we should cancel a holiday because it somehow has no meaning to us.
Here's a wild idea: If the holiday doesn't have a meaning to you or you think that it has lost its true meaning, then make it have one and find out what that meaning really was. Maybe you'll not only learn something, but you'll help someone -- some mom, some family, some kids -- out in the process.
What are your thoughts about the support of the military in this country? And if you are a military family, what have your experiences been?
Photo via respres/Flickr