- - Monday, October 31, 2016

As we enter the month of November, the end of a contentious election cycle rests on everyone’s mind. With so much attention and focus on this historic election, it’s easy to lose sight of the things that matter most. Veterans Day, Nov. 11, is just around the corner, and while many Americans will be spending the weekend enjoying time off work, many more will be gratefully reflecting on the brave commitment their friends and loved ones have made to their country. After all, were it not for these courageous men and women, many of the freedoms we enjoy today — including elections — would not exist.

But we should not stop at thanking our veterans. While many individuals dedicate a day (and weekend) to our veterans, we should not forget those who have supported them every other day of the year, and continue to do so. It goes without saying that our military servicemen and women make huge sacrifices to serve and protect, but what is often overlooked is the tremendous sacrifice made by their families, starting with the spouse and all the way down to the sons and daughters. For this reason, November has been designated as Military Family Appreciation month.

Military Family Appreciation Month is a month-long celebration to honor the families of America’s service members, who sacrifice their lives at home in order to support their loved ones in their duty to serve at all costs.

Military families are the definition of resiliency. A military member’s children will change schools an average of up to nine times over the course of their military tenure. They deal with extended time departed from their parent(s), who often miss major childhood milestones, such as little league, homecoming, prom and graduation. As they get older, military kids are asked to step up and take on responsibilities not asked of other kids their age, in order to fill the role of the deployed parent.

Not enough can be said of the spouses of military members, who serve our country every bit as much as their enlisted husband or wife. They often have to give up their careers to move from base to base as their loved one is called to duty, and sometimes traveling around the world on short notice. At home, they hold down the fort, fulfilling the role of two parents for months and sometimes years at a time.

“Our troops keep our nation safe from threats here at home and around the world, and our journey forward is not sustained by those in uniform alone. The United States is stronger and safer thanks to the millions of military family members who, in sacrificing cherished moments with their loved ones, selflessly afford us precious time with ours,” says President Obama.

They smile through birthdays, holidays and major milestones without their deployed loved ones, supporting them even when they themselves need someone to lean on.

If enough has not been said, at the end of the day, these big-hearted families are still willing to give more of themselves. Whether it’s helping those in need, volunteering at the local school, or opening their homes while their loved ones are away, military families support their home communities and those sacrificing with them. And of course, when a soldier makes the ultimate sacrifice, their families, too, have sacrificed, living every day that follows, bearing this loss.

With the amount of time and energy spent behind elections, protests and movements this year, it’s important that Americans take some time this month to go above and beyond to show appreciation to our veterans and their families. If it weren’t for their sacrifice, we wouldn’t have the freedom to vote, protest or speak out as we do so freely today.

Jim Roberts is president of American Veterans Center.

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