May 06, 2009

NATIONAL MILITARY APPRECIATION MONTH

By Senator Mike Crapo

Throughout the year America does much to honor the service and sacrifice of our military members and their families. We observe many holidays including National Military Appreciation Month, Military Spouse Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, POW/MIA Recognition Day, Gold Star Mother's Day, National Military Family Month, and Veterans Day. But for all that we do to honor them, they have done and continue to do much more in service to us. For all that they and their families have sacrificed, past and present, to ensure our daily freedom and security, we will never be able to fully repay their efforts.

This month presents us with an excellent opportunity to repay, in gratitude and appreciation, the efforts of our service members and their families. In 1999, with a resolution that I proudly co-sponsored and voted for, the Senate designated May as National Military Appreciation Month. While there are many obvious reasons for gratitude and appreciation, there are two that may not always come to mind: the sacrifice made in forbearance of better opportunities by those who volunteer to serve out of a love of country and a sense of duty; and the sacrifice made by their families in forbearance of a more stable and predictable lifestyle, which is often ruled out by the unique nature of military life.

Some people believe that most military recruits come from disadvantaged backgrounds and join the military for lack of better opportunities. A recent report from the Heritage Foundation shows that enlisted personnel and officers do not disproportionately come from disadvantaged backgrounds, but do have more education than their peers in the general population. Each year, there are graduates from our nation's top universities who turn down excellent opportunities in the private sector to pursue a career of service. In the eight years since 9/11, every service member who has joined or reenlisted knew the likelihood of deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan. America is lucky to have such people who are so willing to serve their country.

Military service is less of a job than it is a lifestyle. With the emotional stress and constant challenges that come with long separations, military families learn to lean upon one another for comfort and support. Still, military spouses frequently take on the role of a single parent; numerous moves and unpredictable schedules often push aside their own educational and career pursuits; and their children struggle to find normality in their routine and activities. Too often, family members go without recognition for the support they provide and the hardship they endure during their loved one's military career. Military families receive no commendation medals and few accolades. Throughout a military member's career, the strength and support of a wife or husband can make the difference between success and failure for that individual and that family.

The many sacrifices, those seen and unseen, made by our service members and their families, help secure safety and freedom for all in America. In the course of our daily lives, it is easy to forget that the work of the military is ongoing, every day and every night. When fully considered, all that they do and endure should make it hard for us to take our citizenship in this great country for granted. Take the opportunity presented by National Military Appreciation Month to volunteer with and donate to some of the many organizations who serve our veterans, our service members, and their families. Visit my website at http://crapo.senate.gov and visit www.ourmilitary.mil to learn more about the many ways we can do something in service this month to those who serve us year round. 

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