Thursday, April 2, 2009

Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War

In light of the interest First Lady Michelle Obama has generated with her recent visits to military bases around the country, many Americans are asking themselves what they can do to help local military families.

Alison Buckholtz is the wife of an active-duty Navy pilot who recently returned from a seven-month deployment in the Persian Gulf, and is now preparing for a twelve-month tour in Bagdad. Alison is author of Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War (Tarcher/Penguin), to help raise awareness about National Month of the Military Child.

She has also created the two-minute video “Homecoming Day” documenting the emotional reunions between military children and their parents:

“5 Things Anyone Can Do to Help a Military Family”

Help mow the lawn or shovel snow. Seasonal outdoor tasks that may typically have been done by the deployed servicemember are sometimes overwhelming to a spouse parenting alone.

Suggest starting a school carpool. If the military spouse has more than one child to bring to school in the morning, or has to get to work on time, a shared ride will be a welcome relief.

Offer to babysit. Spouses of deployed servicemembers desperately need time to themselves -- it doesn't have to be a special occasion!

Propose to be their emergency contact or general back-up. Often military families new in town don't have trusted friends who would fill this role, and spouses of deployed servicemembers often worry about what might happen to their child if they can't be reached.

Offer to play favorite games and activities with the children of the deployed servicemember. Boys and girls who might be used to playing sports or doing arts and crafts with their deployed parent miss their usual activities -- and though family friends can't take the place of a parent, these outings can be a welcome distraction.

Alison Buckholtz is the author of "Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War” (Penguin/Tarcher). She has written about her experiences raising a military family in The New York Times, Real Simple, Parents, and

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