Within the ranks, they are anointed with loving monikers: Household 6; Commander, Fort Livingroom; CINC Home, and other affectionate labels. They are military spouses and they are well known for being able to handle anything thrown at them. Raise the kids while their significant other is deployed? Check. Keep the home front running efficiently and effectively while holding down a career. Check. Make sacrifices daily for the good of my country? Check.
It is no wonder we have a Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Military Spouse Appreciation Day was created on May 23, 1984, when then-President Ronald Reagan made a proclamation to recognize the hard work done by military spouses every day. The eventful day is celebrated throughout the United States and on military installations worldwide. Today, Military Spouse Appreciation Day traditionally falls on the Friday before Mother’s Day.
If you’re looking for ways to celebrate the military spouse in your life, here’s USAMM’s top five ways to show your appreciation on Military Spouse Appreciation Day.
1. Military Spouse Appreciation Day Party
A fun way to celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day is to invite over members of your unit and their spouses. This gives you an opportunity to make your military spouses queens/kings for a day. Whether you are active duty or in the National Guard or reserve, having a unit-level celebration can make Military Spouse Appreciation Day more fun and it enables you to get as granular as possible.
For example, inviting the entire company over to your house would likely be impractical, but maybe inviting the members of your squad, platoon or section is more manageable. Also, don’t forget that there are ample parks and open spaces where you can celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day in the great outdoors.
Spouses would relish the opportunity to socialize and interact with fellow military spouses and families, but just be sure that you are doing all the work. Help by manning the grill, play bartender or DJ, or be the entertainment committee for all the kids.
The point of the Military Spouse Appreciation Day party is to show appreciation to military spouses, not to make them cook, clean or chase kids. Cater to them and pickup the loads they might normally carry in a social setting. It’s their day after all.
2. Attain a personal goal
A great way to make Military Spouse Appreciation Day memorable is to help your military spouse attain a goal, or start on a path to achieve a goal. The mobile and sometimes transient nature of military service means that military spouses usually put their families first before themselves.
Military spouses, focused on supporting their loved one in uniform or raising their families, many times overlook their own needs for self care and sacrifice the attainment of personal and professional goals. Helping them do something for themselves on Military Spouse Appreciation Day is the perfect way to show them how important they are to you. Remember, they are nurturing everyone around them, but who is nurturing them?
Maybe your spouse has always wanted to earn a college degree. Encourage them to sign up for classes or to apply for acceptance on Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Does your spouse want to open a business? You can help them take steps to making that a reality on Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Or maybe they want to run a marathon or just read a book. The point is to identify something that is important to your military spouse and then ensure that steps are taken on Military Spouse Appreciation Day to make them happen.
Remember, this isn’t a fire-and-forget type of thing, some of these goals might require sustained support so be ready to support your spouse for the long haul as they chase these goals. They do it for you daily.
3.The gift of space
The life of a military spouse can be exciting, especially if you live overseas, but life can also drag on especially when dealing with day-to-day domestic life. Kids, commissary, bills, car repairs, home maintenance, laundry, career, you name it; it can get pretty mundane. When you add deployments to the mix, well, you get the idea.
One of the greatest gifts for Military Spouse Appreciation Day is the gift of time; alone. Some spouses might not want it, but for those who do, determine how much time they need; whether a few hours, days or weeks, and give them some space to get away from the kids (if you have them), their jobs (if they have one), you and the pressure of being a military spouse.
Remember, for those of you who have deployed, your spouse never got a day off if you have children. They were both parents in your absence.
Simple things like visiting their family back home, a weekend at a spa or playing golf or even just some free time to do what they want is important and healthy for them and you. It doesn't have to break the bank, so work within your budget and if you have to burn some leave to make it happen, it is worth it.
4. Gifts of experience
Another way to show your appreciation on Military Spouse Appreciation Day is to give your military spouse the gift of an experience. As mentioned before, domestic life can be mundane, so if you’re airborne, why not give your spouse the opportunity to see what your professional life is like. Buy them a tandem skydive. If they’re not the adventurous type then maybe they’ve always wanted to go to a local ballet, musical or play?
Maybe they’ve had their eye on a particular restaurant that has a type of food they’ve always wanted to try or there might be a point of interest that you can take them to. The point is, gifts are great, but experiences stick to a person’s soul. Remember, it is about them. Start asking them a few months out, what is something they’ve always wanted to do but they’ve never had the chance. That way when Military Spouse Appreciation Day rolls around, you're ready.
5. Photos to music
Apps and software make creativity easy these days. Anyone can be a creative director without a lot of technical skills. With that in mind, an extraordinarily thoughtful way to recognize your spouse on Military Spouse Appreciation Day is to gather photos of your life together and set them to music.
It’s important to capture your entire lives together and maybe have music from when you first met, your first dance at your wedding, and then songs that have meant something to you over the years.
This can be a cumbersome process. Going through hundreds if not thousands of pictures can be time consuming, and finding the right songs to play and syncing them to the pictures can also take a lot of time and patience, but the reaction from your military spouse will be worth it and they are definitely worth the effort.
Above all, it will show them that they are truly appreciated on Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Remember that day in, day out, while you are working to support the nation, they are working to support you and they deserve as much as you can give them every day, but especially on Military Spouse Appreciation Day.