Good ways to welcome military families to your community

Moving to a new city is always a struggle! Our active-duty military families move, on average, every two to three years. According to the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), The average child in a military family will move six to nine times during a school career — about three times more frequently than non-military families. National Guard and Reserve families may also move, and families transitioning out of the military may be relocating to a new place.caroline-leigh-auletta-family

Families leaving the military and returning to civilian life experience stress during this transition period. A survey conducted in 2014 by the National Military Family Association (NMFA) found five major areas of stress for families transitioning out of the military: behavioral and emotional health, employment, financial readiness, healthcare, and understanding VA benefits.

More often than not, transitioning military families are not formally welcomed, or even contacted, by community service providers or organizations. The American Legion Auxiliary can help by connecting military families to their new hometowns, whether they’re relocating from another duty station or separating from military service altogether.

“Welcome To Our Hometown” events, a program of the American Legion Auxiliary, are opportunities for your community to show servicemembers and their families your appreciation for their military service, and offer an introduction to their new hometown.

These events address key areas of stress facing transitioning military families, and presents an opportunity for these families to get to know The American Legion Family as a resource during their transition.

We all have a responsibility to support our military families. There are a number of ways to show support:

  • Offer friendship and communication with military families already in your neighborhood.
  • Check in with area American Legion Auxiliary units to make them aware of the new family in town, and to see if they have any events scheduled that military families would like to attend.
  • Encourage business owners to seek out military spouses and veterans, and recognize the value of their experiences when they are applying for employment.
  • Be mindful that reintegration into civilian life is different for every servicemember and family.
  • Allow families some time to adjust to their new homes before expecting them to accept your invitation to socialize. (If several weeks pass since your invitation, extend the invitation once more.)
  • Large gatherings may be too stressful for some transitioning servicemembers or family members. Make sure your invited guests know something about the event ahead of time so they can make an informed decision on whether to attend. Also, be understanding if your guests wish to leave early.
  • Take time to introduce families to the community.
  • Do not to ask details about their military service. Let the servicemember or family member volunteer that information if they wish.

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