My family recently went to a local restaurant where military members were given a 50 percent discount on meals. A few weeks ago we went to an area amusement park where we received free admission, free food and drinks and entertainment - all in honor of military service.
I always have been very grateful for the various advantages and incentives. It is wonderful to have the support of the community.
Perks are great and it is always smart to take advantage while they are being offered. But there are also other ways I have found support.
In the Army, each unit has a family readiness group (FRG), which consists of the spouses and families of each soldier. The FRG can play an important role, especially during deployments.
When my husband left for Operation Desert Shield, I remember being a little apprehensive and scared. We were fairly new to the Army and my family lived 700 miles away. But after attending a deployment briefing held by our family support group, I felt much better about the whole situation. I did not feel alone.
I never felt alone during Operation Iraqi Freedom either. Support was available throughout our community. Many area churches offered support groups, especially for military spouses. Schools got involved, forming clubs for their military students or by showing support in other ways. I even saw information about a deployment meeting in a local YMCA.
Many neighborhoods attached yellow or patriotic ribbons to trees and signs. It was wonderful to see the trees tied with yellow bows lining the street where we live.
My next-door neighbors, Karol and Kurt, thoughtfully mowed my lawn more than once. A friend of mine, Myla, mentioned that her neighbors cooked an entire dinner (complete with dessert) for her family.
I attended a coffee group, a monthly get-together for spouses whose soldiers are in the same unit. That's where I met Myla. Those gatherings were so therapeutic during our husbands' deployment; it was wonderful to compare notes with other wives going through similar emotions and experiences. (Plus, it was a night out with "the girls," which meant food was always involved.)
One important fact I have learned during our years in the military is that I am never alone. Support is everywhere.
- Lory Johnston of Valrico chronicles the life of an Army wife. Her husband is assigned to Central Command.