The month of November is the Military Family Appreciation Month. 4-H is a great way to engage the entire family in fun and educational activities. 4-H is a community of seven million young people around the world learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. 4-H is available in every county and parish in the country. Outside the United States, 4-H programs operate through independent, country-led organizations in more than 50 countries. 4-H also has a strong partnership with the U.S. military all over the world. Both at home and overseas, military youth can be a part of a 4-H program. Stateside they can participate on their installation through the base Child and Youth Services and in the community by joining a Community 4-H Club. There are projects to satisfy all interests, not just the traditional livestock, clothing and foods. Following are excerpts from the Military.com website
Military Family Appreciation Month was established in 1993 by the Armed Services YMCA, with the U.S. Government recognizing the occasion every year since. Each November, ASYMCA celebrates Military Family Month to demonstrate the nation’s support and commitment the families of military personnel.
Each year the President signs a proclamation declaring November Military Family Month. President Obama said that our nation owes "each day of security and freedom that we enjoy to the members of our Armed Forces and their families. Behind our brave service men and women, there are family members and loved ones who share in their sacrifice and provide unending support."
Elaine Sanchez, American Forces Press Service lists 10 qualities of military families.
10. Their sense of humor. I think this is a prerequisite for military families -- kind of an "If you don’t laugh, you cry," complex, particularly when it comes to deployments.
9. They’re passionate -- about everything. They give their all, whether it’s volunteering in their communities, with their family readiness groups or in their kids’ schools. What’s even more impressive is they do so while balancing careers, home life, kids and education.
8. They’re strong, even under extraordinary circumstances. Due to state-of-the-art technology and medicine, the survivability of this war is unmatched by any other, and service members are returning home alive despite devastating injuries. And when they do, their families are there to embrace them. In some cases, they give up homes and careers to care for their military loved one full-time. That’s strength.
7. They’re always willing to lend each other a hand. I visited an Army post about a year ago to interview military kids and met a teenager whose parents were both deployed in Iraq. He and his two siblings were staying with his parents’ friends, who had three kids of their own. I was amazed by the couple’s selflessness at the time, but since have heard of so many other examples that I’ve realized this caring and support is simply another aspect of the military family culture.
Page 2 of 3 - 6. They’re resilient. A decade of war, frequent deployments, moves, career and school changes. Need I say more?
5. Military spouses. From the moment they say "I do" to a military member, they begin a life of service every bit as valuable as their spouse’s. They give up careers to follow their military loved one around the world, hold down the home front during deployments, and offer their unfailing love and support. It’s a lot to ask of anyone, and they voluntarily shoulder this burden.
4. Military kids. They’re just amazing. They change schools, on average, six to eight times over the course of their parent’s military career. They deal with long separations from loved ones – who aren’t headed out for a business trip, but for a year in a combat zone. Despite everything that’s thrown at them, they are strong, brave and adaptable. I met a high school senior a while back who told me he was OK with his dad missing his graduation, prom and a host of other events. He knew the reason why -- his dad’s desire to serve his nation -- and that was enough.
3. Other family members. People often forget about the extended family members who serve too. The grandparents who open their homes to grandkids during deployments, the sisters and brothers who call and send care packages, a host of uncles, aunts and cousins offering their unwavering support. I spoke to a woman who took in her two grandchildren during her Air Force daughter’s deployment. She was nervous at first – it had been years since kids lived in her home full-time -- but then gained a new bond with her grandchildren. And she’d do it again in a heartbeat, she told me.
2. Their service and sacrifice. They, too, serve this nation. They weather holidays, birthdays and major milestones without their military loved one. In the worst cases, they must deal with their loved one’s ultimate sacrifice. First Lady Michelle Obama expressed her gratitude for military families at an event to honor military kids last spring: "When we talk about service to our country, when we talk about all that sacrifice for a cause, when we talk about patriotism and courage and resilience, we’re not just talking about our troops and our veterans," Obama said, "we’re talking about our military families, as well."
1. They stand behind their service member. I know a military mom whose children – all six – had either joined the military or were about to. All had joined while the nation is at war. While she was concerned, rather than deter them from their choice, she chose to support them. She told me it was an easy decision. "I always tell (my children), ‘This is your time in history. You are where the action is and you’re fighting for us, for your country and for the lifestyle we all enjoy."
Page 3 of 3 - For info about Military Family Appreciation Month, go to: Military.com. For info about Leavenworth County 4-H, go to: www.leavenworth.ksre.edu or www.kansas4-h.org. and select the 4-H Youth Development tab.