By Rheanna Christine, PCSgrades Blogger Affiliate
The National Guard (Army and Air) is a reserve force for the Federal Government, as well as a militia for each state, Washington, D.C., and US Territories. They are a military force that serves two masters.
Since 9/11 many Guard and Reserve service members have spent more time activated and deployed than they probably ever thought they would. When you decide to join the National Guard today, it is almost always with a clear understanding that there will be deployments, as well as activations to serve a role in protecting the United States in service to the Commander in Chief.
One of the greatest issues that face these families is a lack of understanding of their life. It is a sentiment I hear over and over again, and one that I feel myself. In the Blue Star Families Military Lifestyle Survey 2016, 88% of survey takers cited that they felt civilians did not understand the sacrifice of military families. I would argue that if you were to directly ask National Guard families how they felt that number would be even higher.
In 1999 Congress designated the entire month of May as National Military Appreciation Month. It is an opportunity for the general public to show their appreciation, culminating in Memorial Day where we pause to remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice. All through May, across the country, there are special events for service members, Military Spouse Appreciation events, and special discounts. But every year I hear stories of National Guardsmen and family members who feel excluded. They feel left out of the festivities, whether by design or by accident. Remembering that ALL service members and their families are equally important is the key to a happy and healthy force. Fortunately, there are many organizations and companies that provide discounts and activities regardless of the status of the service member. Blue Star Families includes National Guard and Reserve members in their Blue Star Museums program. The National Military Family Association opens enrollment in their Operation Purple camps to the children of National Guard and Reserve members.
Acknowledging the Sacrifice
The acknowledgment by military support non-profits is important, but it’s the voice of the National Guard service members and families themselves that is a powerful one! Telling our story is important. Any chance I get to share my story I do it. Those I share with in turn, share the story. Every Military Spouse Appreciation Day we have to make sure that the spouses of these service members are honored for their sacrifice, even if that sacrifice might look different than their active duty counterparts. It is still a sacrifice. So while we are moving towards a “Purple Force,” joining all the families of all the services together when we support them; we have a duty to make sure no spouse is forgotten.
Rheanna Christine is a PCSgrades’ Blogger Affiliate currently based in Washington, DC. When she isn’t writing, she stays at home with her three children. She has been featured in Military Spouse Magazine, USA Today, and National Guard and Reserve Magazine. In 2016, she co-founded and launched SpouseTalks, an interactive forum targeted to all branches of the Guard and Reserves, with the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). She and her high school sweetheart hubby have been living this military life for almost fifteen years. Visit her blog at www.cammostylelove.com.