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How to Make Civilians Understand Us

They say “Thank you for your service.”  They say “Thank you for your sacrifices.” They say “I could never do what you are doing.”  Civilians are all too eager to express their gratitude and appreciation, but no one is willing to dig deeper and to learn more about us — military families.

But why do they do so little to improve their understanding of our way of life? Why do so few outside of the military know about military families?

Is it because less than one percent of the U.S. population currently meets the definition of being military personnel? Is it because anything military isn’t hip enough? Or is it simply because nobody cares about the military any more?

I believe so little is known about us simply because people don’t realize that our lives are so very different from their own. And if people are not aware of the existence of such differences, they can’t inquire and learn more about them.

For those with little or no personal exposure to the military, I believe that we need to foster awareness of our existence.  And we need some sort of medium that helps diminish common misconceptions that currently exist and that are being reinforced by shows like Army Wives.

But will the civilian world listen? How will we get complete strangers to care about us? The answer: let’s try to start approaching and strengthening the bond to the non-military world via those we already share a connection with — our civilian families and friends.

Military families need support, no matter how strong we think we are; support, especially from our own non-military friends and extended families. We love them. We want them to be part of our lives. We want them to understand our way of life.

And that’s why we have to nourish this connection by helping them to learn more about us. That’s why we have to bring our way of life a bit closer to all our loved ones.

While we might not get a complete stranger to listen to us, let’s try to obtain an open ear from our very own families and friends within the civilian world. Let’s educate them about military life. Let’s educate them about us — military families.

And who knows; increased understanding among those we love might broaden and extend to an increased understanding among all those our military protects.

Yvonne Jones is a military spouse of 13 years and counting, who has moved nationally and internationally more than 10 times since the military became part of her life.  After years of direct contact, experience and research in the field at hand, she knows the ins and outs of the issues covered in Closing The Gap: Understanding Your Service(wo)man, a book that is meant to reconnect Military Families with their non-military friends and family members by helping civilians learn more about the life within the Military. 

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