You don’t live near a military base. There’s not even a recruiting station in your town. Or a VFW or other veterans group either. “There’s definitely not any military families here!”
But you might be wrong. Military families are from every town and city, maybe even yours!
Hidden Heroes in Your Community
Most Americans think of troops as those serving on active duty. Active duty troops live the military life 24/7. They are always on-call, ready to serve. These troops wear the uniform every day and their families are moving around the world beside them. But there are also troops who serve more quietly. Our brave National Guard and Reserve troops are ready to answer the call of duty, too. You just might not notice these heroic men and women because they blend right into your community!
Who Are the National Guard & Reserve?
Guard and Reserve troops are men and women who have completed basic training for enlistment or been commissioned as officers. Instead of serving in the military every single day, like active duty troops, these individuals mostly live their normal lives. They work at regular jobs, serve as elected officials, and blend into your community. This means that they might not live near an active duty military base! However, they also are members of military units that train together periodically. And they can be called upon to deploy around the world.
Extra Burdens on Guard & Reserve Families
Because Guard and Reserve troops aren’t always serving, their families can’t always access the supports offered to their active duty counterparts. Their medical insurance, base access, and built-in supports are different. When Guard and Reserve troops activate for deployments or extended missions, their families might be unsure where to turn for support. Can they access XYZ service now? Are they eligible? It can be challenging to switch back and forth between being a civilian family and being a military family with someone deployed!
Guard & Reserve Families Can Be Disconnected
For active duty families, there is a built-in community and support network. They all live on or around their military duty station. Within units, families often socialize together outside of work. You know that there are other families going through similar trials or situations. It’s easy to seek help when needed.
Guard and Reserve families might not live near a military base, or even near any other families in their unit! In fact, the only contact they might have with their parent command might be via email. Being scattered around a region can make it more challenging for families to connect to each other and to support services. It’s hard to build a network during deployment when many miles are separating each individual family.
Extra Burdens on Troops & Families
Active duty troops serve all the time. Training can be built into an extended schedule leading up to a deployment. While there is impact on the family, this is also their “normal.”
For Guard and Reserve families, they are used to their military parent working a regular job, not serving in the military. And, because troops live like civilians most of the time, there might be extra training involved. This means that before a deployment, Guard and Reserve troops often need to complete additional training before they even deploy! They will often be gone from their families for a few months prior to deploying. Once they deploy, their deployments are often extended between 6 to 12 months or more.
This means that when Guard and Reserve units are activated for deployment, they might be missing over a year with their families! That’s a huge change for their spouse and children on the homefront. There are extra, unusual burdens placed on the parent at home, from child care to carpooling to budgeting. For kids, they will feel extra stress and emotions due to missing their deployed parent and handling the many changes at home.
Your Family Can Help!
The Guard and Reserve families in your community need your help! You can partner with KOAH to create a community network that supports your brave Guard and Reserve troops.
Here’s how you can help:
Connect with Guard or Reserve units in your town or region. Share KOAH and other military family resources with the Chaplain or commanding officer.
Offer to sponsor KOAH Hug packages for children of deployed troops. Getting a Hug from KOAH while a parent is deployed helps military children feel loved and supported.
Reach out to s KOAH’s resources and initiatives with them! Did you know we’re going to be pioneering a Fierce Family Workshop program designed for Kids Of America’s Heroes and their parents?
Build a resource guide for military families. Locate resources in your community to help them during deployments!
Offer support, like meal trains, babysitting, and other assistance during trainings and deployments. Having an extra helping hand can mean so much!
Seek out your military spouse friends and offer fellowship and love.