This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union. All opinions are 100% mine.
I’ll be honest: before I married into the military, I had no idea what Military Appreciation Month was. I didn’t even know there was a Military Appreciation Month. I’d never heard of Military Spouse Appreciation Day. I’d vaguely heard of Armed Forces Day. But had you asked me what military observances were in May, I would have only said Memorial Day. The truth is, May is jam-packed with observances: Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Children of Fallen Patriots Day, Armed Forces Day, Silver Star Service Banner Day, Victory in Europe Day, Loyalty Day, Public Service Recognition Week, and Memorial Day. And May is also Month of the Military Caregiver.
The observance of Military Appreciation Month is fairly new, as it was first designated by Congress in 1999. In the military community, it’s often heralded in by military-community-specific discounts from national companies, social media posts, and celebrations on base. Besides the more commercial commemoration and appreciation of the military community, it’s a time that military and civilians alike can mark together by doing something small (or large!) for the military community. Not sure what this could look like for you? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Shop military-connected small businesses
Veterans and military spouses are more likely than non-military-connected folks to start their own businesses. Whether they’re online or brick-and-mortar, small businesses take an incredible amount of grit, determination, and work to stand up and keep going through all of the craziness of life, economic booms and busts, and pandemics. Choosing to shop a veteran-owned or milspouse-owned small business is a tangible way to support military families in a way that has reverberating effects. Not sure how to find military-connected small businesses? I can help you with that!
2. Donate to a military nonprofit
There are plenty–plenty– of military nonprofits that work to improve nearly every facet of life for military families or veterans. Care about military spouse employment? There are multiple nonprofits working to improve the situation. Mental health services? You can absolutely find nonprofits providing resources. Want to provide sports, art, or another service to military kids? Yep, there are nonprofits that do that too.
3. Contact your officials
Do you know how your elected officials vote on military family and veteran issues? Do they support initiatives like ensuring that military families live in safe, mold-free housing? Do they promote access to mental health care to veterans? Are they committed to taking care of military families and veterans all the time… or just when they are useful photo props? Take this May to learn a little more about their stances and to send them an email, either in support of the work they’re doing for the military community or to lodge your complaint.
4. Send a card
Pandemic or not, the elderly who are in nursing homes, VA facilities, and state-run military homes could always use a card to brighten their day. Contact a facility near you to ask about mailing cards to veterans to mark Military Appreciation Month. This is a great activity for kids, too, and a use of creative energy that you might need right now, during stay-at-home orders.
5. Get on the treadmill
Two military nonprofits use Memorial Day as a way to remember those who have been killed in action. Team Red White Blue’s Run as One is held in early June as a way to focus on mental health challenges in the veteran community. Registration is $0 with the option to include a donation or purchase gear in support of RWB’s mission. During the month of May, wear blue: run to remember encourages runners to pledge to run a distance of at least one mile in honor of a specific member of the Armed Forces who has died in defense of the country.