#1 Thank them for their sacrifice.
Keep it short and simple. Intense feelings of sadness and fear lie just beneath the surface. Too much emotional sympathy, or worse, pity, may undo their hard-won self-control.
#2 Leave opinions about the war at the door.
Military spouses are as diverse in their beliefs as civilians. Their beliefs may not be the same as yours but those beliefs may help them cope with the fear and sadness they feel during a deployment. Just listen.
#3 Donate to organizations that support service members and their families.
One is Operation: A Bit of Home. For a long list of worthy organizations visit www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil or vist ReMIND Cause to donate.
#4 Friends, Family members and neighbors can give them a break.
During deployment, homefront life is often isolated and grueling. Give specific offers of help - dinner, mow the lawn, offer to watch their kids for an evening.
#5 Employers can give military spouses more flexible hours before, during, and immediately after a deployment, understanding that the spouses' home demands have doubled.
#6 Educators and daycare providers can turn to the Military Child Education Coalition, www.militarychild.org, to learn how to help children facing a deployment.
#7 Professional organizations can offer pro bono services such as donated legal services to families with deployed service members. Counselors who wish to volunteer can try contacting the counseling organizations listed on Kristin's website.
#8 Churches, clubs, and book groups can offer support groups and social events, especially around holidays when a deployed family members' absence may be extra hard. See how some churches are reaching out to military families at www.elca.org/peaceandwar/families.html.
#9 Educate yourself about the services available to military families, many of whom are unaware and suffer alone. Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, clergy, teachers, and others can create a safety net of support to steer individuals toward help.
#10 Stay engaged!
Make sure your military reflects the country you want America to be. Pay attention when military issues come up in the news, compare information from a variety of sources, write letters to the editor, and hold your elected leaders accountable for how they use the military and how well they support them.