By Danielle DeSimone
As military supporters, the phrase “I support the troops” is a familiar one. We say it often, proudly display it on our cars’ bumper stickers and show it by donating to military support organizations.
But what does it mean to support the military, and why? Why is it important to support the military? Here are a few crucial reasons to support service members and their families:
1. The Military Makes Incredible Sacrifices on Our Behalf
In their everyday lives, the military community makes sacrifices that often go unnoticed by their civilian neighbors – whether that be the high-stress challenges of a service member’s daily duties; the struggle of a military spouse looking for another job after relocating for the fourth time; or even a military child adjusting to a new school and new friends after a move to a new duty station.
Service members and military families selflessly do whatever it takes to serve the nation.
This means months or years spent apart from loved ones, families divided by distance and war zones; it includes military spouses giving birth alone in a hospital room, with no spouse there to support them; and it means being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice – that is, service members who are willing to lay down their lives on the front lines for our safety.
As Americans who benefit directly from service members’ sacrifices, supporting the military is the least we can do as an expression of gratitude for all that they are willing to give up to ensure our freedom.
2. Being There for the Military Community Helps Improve Morale and Operational Readiness
Military life can take its toll on service members and military families. For example, if a service member is weighed down by stress on the front lines or concerns about their family back home, it can be more difficult for them to carry out their missions. That’s why it’s crucial to support them to help improve morale – not only to keep spirits high, but also to ensure operational readiness.
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With more than 250 locations around the world, service members can turn to their local USO center for a home away from home. By providing a supportive environment, the USO can help service members feel more connected to one another and their families, even when they are in places like Iraq, Poland or just south of the North Korean border.
However, support from their local, civilian communities is crucial for morale as well.
According to the Blue Star Families 2021 Military Family Lifestyles Survey, only 19% of service members and military spouses feel that their civilian neighbors truly understand the sacrifices made by local military and veteran families. Even more disheartening is the fact that only 30% of active-duty family respondents said that they feel a sense of belonging to their local civilian community.
That is why, as military supporters, it is crucial to actively support service members and their families.
Something as easy as thanking a service member for their service or acknowledging the immense challenges of life as a military spouse can have a real, positive impact on the military community. By bridging that divide between civilians and the military, Americans can show military members that the work they do on behalf of this country is valued and appreciated – boosting their morale and preparing them for yet another day in the field.
3. The Military Ensures Our Freedom and Safety Around the World
From the battlefields of the American Revolution to the front lines of Eastern Europe, American service members have been ensuring the freedom of America and its allies for centuries. In recent memory, our nation’s troops have been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism, on-call 24/7 to ensure safety and peace to the U.S. and our allies.
Service members are a force for good in the world, which is why it is crucial we stand behind them as a Force Behind the Forces®.
4. Military Members and Their Families Are Members of Our Community
It is important to support the military because they are in fact members of your own community. They are your neighbor, your teacher, your soccer coach.
When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, the National Guard was there, rescuing citizens stranded in flooded houses. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the National Guard stepped up again, administering COVID-19 tests, supporting overwhelmed hospitals with military medical staff and delivering supplies from food banks. As with most National Guard deployments, a majority of these service members were local, deployed within their home state to help the communities they are a part of.
When you and your community are in need, members of the military are there for you – and so it’s only right to be there for them as well.
5. It’s the Right Thing to Do
When USO Global Ambassador and country music star Kellie Pickler was asked why she donates her time and talents to perform for the troops with the USO, her response was simple: “Why not?” she said. “Why not be a part of something that matters? Why not do the right thing?”
Supporting service members and military families is the right thing to do. After all that they have sacrificed, after all that they have been willing to give for both this nation and their local communities, it is crucial to pay it forward, to Give More Than Thanks and to support the military wherever and whenever they may need us.
-This story was originally published on USO.org in 2021. It has been updated in 2022.
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