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Ways to Show You Appreciate Military Families

Plastic flamingos

Love your neighbors? Appreciate all they do? Then maybe you just need to flock 'em.

This week, my neighbors woke up to find a flock of plastic flamingos in their front yard. The accompanying sign said, "Congratulations! You've been flocked!" The sign also included some nice words of hope and support.

Everyone who passes by has to stop and look. Maybe it is because we don't see that many flamingos in our neck of the woods. Maybe it is because we so rarely see neighbors reach out to each other.

I do, actually, love my neighbors, and since November is Military Family Appreciation Month, I've been curious about things we can do to show our military and civilian neighbors that we do appreciate them. Here are some ideas:

Drop a penny

I heard a story at one of our live events from a National Guard wife who worked in a government office.

When her husband deployed, she found a jar of pennies on her desk and an anonymous note that said that every time she found a penny, she should know that someone was thinking of her. She thought that was a nice sentiment.

Then for the next six months, she found pennies on her desk nearly every day, which was amazing. She found them next to the sink in the washroom. She found them on her car in the parking lot. "I really thought that people were thinking of me," she told me. "It was just so random."

By the end of the deployment, she had enough pennies to get a really nice hotel room. A penny for your thoughts -- and your well wishes -- really adds up.

Give them a medal

Some of our civilian neighbors go way beyond the bounds of average neighborliness for people in the military. If you know a teenager who babysat for the deployed or your church group helped a returning vet or your company started a program that actually HIRED a vet or a spouse, give them the kind of national recognition they deserve with a Blue Star Families Neighbors Recognition Award.

Blue Star Families is accepting nominations for the inaugural Blue Star Neighbors Recognition Award. Entries will be accepted through Nov. 7, and a winner will be announced in late November.

Light 'em up for Christmas

If you have a neighbor whose service member is deploying over the holidays, surprise them with a light show.

Since 2003, Christmas Décor, a professional holiday and event decorating franchise, has used its Decorated Family program to thank our troops for their dedication and support by decorating their family's homes.

People can nominate deserving military families in their community by filling out the Decorated Family Nominations form on the Christmas Decor Facebook Page. Winners are awarded based on their location (to ensure there is a local franchise to provide the award) and the impact of their story on the judges.

Flock them yourself

You may have a group in your community that is already using a flocking project to raise money for local cub scouts, church youth groups or graduating classes. They typically plant the plastic flamingos in your neighbor's yard for a fee and then two days later mysteriously remove the flamingos to deploy them elsewhere.

If you don't, your group can get 30 plastic flamingos on Amazon for $119 (or 2 for $7). Then you can flock everyone from your command. Or only the pregnant gals. Or just the male spouses. Or everyone with kids under 10 years old.

Imagine what it would look like if you had some crafty person in the command paint your flamingos red, white and blue. Or put charming patriotic hats on them. Hee.

Clearly, this is a project to undertake with caution because you could get carried away.

-- Find more ways to appreciate military families here and here.

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Jacey Eckhart Military Family Appreciation Month

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Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs at and a military sociologist.  Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan??

Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times.  Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom.  

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