My family and I are headed to a free military family camp this weekend sponsored by 4-H and Operation: Military Kids. I’m always excited to find programs like this because they demonstrate one of my passions in action: civilian community involvement (in this case 4-H) in military lives.
But it got me thinking. I spend a lot of time talking about how civilian communities should get involved in military life. I spend very little time wondering how I can help them do that.
Being a good neighbor is a two-way street. Why should we as military families expect the greater community to support us if we do not make ourselves available? Of course most civilians (even Oprah!) don’t know anyone in the military. We don’t make the effort to be known. It’s just easier to spend all of our time and energy on people who understand what we’re going through.
Instead, let’s try stepping out of our comfort zones. There are companies and organizations out there just waiting for the chance to reach out to military families – but with no idea how to make it happen. Last deployment a simple phone call to my local Starbucks resulted in 50 lbs. of donated coffee for me to mail to our battalion. Their collection bin tapped into the goodwill of an entire community of civilian shoppers – and got the military on their minds.
If it takes a village of support for us to make it through deployment and reintegration, then it is in on our best interest to take a step of faith towards our civilian neighbors.
I would love to hear examples of outreach you have done. Inspire me!