10 Ways You Can Support Military Families

Did you know there are currently over 1 million military children under the age of 18? Chances are, you have military families in your community. Sometimes they arrive at the start of the school year with many unanswered questions and other times they come halfway through the year needing even more help. Military families face a lot of difficulties that civilians may be unaware of.  Here are 10 ways your organization can support military families and welcome them into your community.

1. Welcome New Military Families to Your School

Add a New Family Liaison to your list of Chairs or Board Members to welcome new families and help them make the transition. In your Membership Toolkit database you can include a custom field that asks “are you new to our school”. This makes it easy to send communication to new families and to assure that you know who they are.  

New families will have many questions. Consider adding a Resource Center for New Families to your website. Usually military members know where they’ll be stationed next and are able to search the website before they even arrive in the state. Don’t forget to include contact information.

Extend a personal invitation to the next meeting.  In a recent survey, 68% of military families had volunteered in the last month. Military families are an excellent resource for your organization as they’ve been all over the country and seen it all!

2. Support for Military Families During Deployment

During a deployment, schools can be the only source of stability and routine a child has. Provide resources for teachers and staff on how to support children while their parents are away. Help teachers identify those who may need assistance.

Consider adopting a family going through a deployment and check in with them periodically.  Sometimes something simple like offering to help shuttle the kids to different activities can be a big help. The National Military Family Association provides a great resource for communities that are supporting military families.  Check out their community toolkit here.

3. Know and Comply with the Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission (MIC3)

The MIC3 provides for the uniform treatment of military children transferring between school districts and states. As of August, all 50 states have adopted the compact. This compact covers children of active duty members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard and even active National Guard members and children of the Commissioned Corps of NOAA and the Public Health Service. Visit their website for downloadable brochures and one pagers for schools.

4. Use Technology to Communicate with Service Members

Active duty service members may not be able to attend meetings and parent-teacher conferences but they do want to be involved. Include them in PTA/PTO emails and newsletters. Arrange for teachers to have Skype or FaceTime conferences with the service member who can’t make it in person. Classes might enjoy using Skype to talk to the service member and learn about their deployment and where they are stationed.

5. Show Support for Our Military

Display the service member’s branch of service symbol on or near a teacher’s door. It will show support for the military family and will also help military kids to identify others like them.

6. Celebrate the Month of the Military Child in April

Participate in an activity to show military families that you understand and appreciate them.  Help the school participate in Operation Appreciation, a letter-writing campaign for service members and their families. 

​7. Create a Parent-Buddy System

Ask members to volunteer to be a Buddy Parent for a new family. These volunteers can assure that the new families have a contact who they can ask questions and they can help coordinate additional support that may be needed for the family. This helps ease the transition and can increase parent engagement. 

This is also great idea for kids–a friendly face in the lunchroom or at practice can go a long way to making a military child feel at ease.

8. Educate Your Community on Military Life

Include information in your newsletter that discusses military life.  Ask military kids and their families if they would like to contribute essays, pictures, and other materials.

How can members in your organization support service members and their units that are on deployment or veterans in your community?

9. Host a Freedom Walk

Show your appreciation to those in uniform including the military, police, fire and rescue.  Schools and communities can dress up as these heroes and parade outside. Veterans can be invited to speak and students can participate in an essay contest. Create a Hero Wall with names of veterans, active duty, police, fire and rescue family members.

10. Say Thank You

Showing your appreciation for what military families sacrifice can be as easy as saying thank you. Remember that the entire military family serves. 

As Veteran’s Day approaches, choose one or several of these simple ideas to show your support to Military Families.  

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