Fort McCoy News Nov. 25, 2016

Military Family Month honors all who serve

November is Military Family Month. The observance was established in 1996 by the Armed Services YMCA, with the U.S. government recognizing the occasion every year since.

Each November, the president signs a proclamation declaring November Military Family Month, and with the many service members still deployed overseas, recognizing the daily sacrifices made by military Families has never been more important.

Family members work on crafts during the “Military Families: Stronger Together” workshop Nov. 5 at Fort McCoy. Army Community Service coordinated the event.
Family members work on crafts during the "Military Families: Stronger
Together" workshop Nov. 5 at Fort McCoy. Army Community Service
coordinated the event.
Photo by Lorie Retzlaff

"For generations, brave Americans have stepped forward and answered our country's call to serve in our Armed Forces," states President Barack Obama in the 2016 Military Family Month presidential proclamation. "With honor and distinction, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen fight to defend the principles upon which our republic was founded so that we might live in a freer and more prosperous world. Behind these courageous Americans stand spouses, children, and parents who give up precious time with their loved ones, bearing the burden of long deployments and difficult moves, and oftentimes putting their careers on hold.

"During Military Family Month, we salute the Families of those who proudly are a part of our nation's unbroken chain of patriots for their unwavering devotion, and we renew our sacred vow to uphold our promise to our troops, our veterans, and their Families," the president states. "Our military would not be the greatest in the world without the strength and support of the loved ones who stand alongside our men and women in uniform.

"We must always be there for our service members and their Families — just as they are there for us. Through the thickest of fights and the darkest of nights, our extraordinary military Families — our heroes on the home front — stand alongside our patriots in uniform, and in their example we see the very best of our country's spirit," Obama said in the proclamation. "This month, let us thank them for their tremendous devotion to duty and for their unyielding sacrifice."

At Fort McCoy, military Families are supported by organizations postwide, such as through the Fort McCoy Commissary; Exchange; the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR); and more.

Fort McCoy Army Community Service (ACS), for example, held the "Military Families: Stronger Together" Workshop in early November.

Participants completed several crafts, including Family calendars and quilt-block wall hangings, in a Family-friendly atmosphere.

"We recognize it is the whole Family that serves our country, not only the service member," said Lorie Retzlaff, ACS master resilience trainer and volunteer coordinator.

"This is why our services are geared toward everyone in the Family. We offer a play group for our youngest members along with many Family-time activities designed to strengthen the emotional, social, physical, and spiritual aspects of the Family," Retzlaff said.

To find out more about classes and activities for military Families, call 608-388-3505, stop by building 2111, or go online to www.mccoy.armymwr.com/us/mccoy/programs/army-community-service.

According to the website www.militarybenefits.info, people can show appreciation to military Families in several ways during the observance and throughout the year:

• Create a spouse or service member care package with items that would help either ease stress during a deployment.

• Adopt a service member or Family for the holidays.

• Thank a service member, veteran, military spouse, or military child for his/her service.

• Visit war memorials as a Family to teach children the value of service.

• Fly the U.S. flag.

• Offer a military neighbor a bit of a respite with volunteer child care to get errands accomplished or to even enjoy a few hours to recharge.

• Make a donation or volunteer with a military assistance organization like the Armed Services YMCA (www.asymca.org).

To see the entire 2016 presidential proclamation, go to www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/10/27/presidential-proclamation-military-family-month-2016.

   (Article prepared by the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office.)