About This Book


Anyone in military life will find inspiration, support, and appreciation in this collection of personal and grateful stories about the important role our members of the armed forces and their families play in serving our great country.

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Five ways to support military families
Drawn from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Military Families

Military families are the unheralded heroes of the armed services. It’s the spouses and children, the parents and grandparents and siblings, and the extended families of our service members who support our troops behind the scenes. And now Chicken Soup for the Soul, in collaboration with the USO, has a new collection of stories by and for service member and their families, providing them with the support, advice, and just plain entertainment that they deserve. Here are five tips for military families that we’ve drawn from the book, from people who have already “been there, done that”:

  1. Wherever you go, the military will be your family and your support system. When Heather Gillis’s husband sold his private medical practice and joined the Air Force, Heather didn’t know what to expect. The family had to pack up their lives, and leave family and friends behind in Arizona to move to an Alaskan base. “We were entering a whole new world,” Heather shares. “I learned quickly that if I didn’t get out there and meet people, I was never going to make friends in my new military world.” Thanks to locking her keys in her car, Heather met and became quick friends with her neighbor. From there, Heather got involved in the community at the base and made many great friends. “The neighbors and friends I meet become a part of my military family,” Heather says. “Without them, life would be hard away from everyone we left.”
  2. Growing up military has plenty of benefits for kids. By the time Lauren Stevens was twelve, she had lived in four states and three countries because of her father’s Air Force transfers. “Home,” she says, “was wherever my family resided at the time.” And she loved it! “Military life taught me discipline and resilience, exposed me to different cultures, and provided my family a lifetime of memories,” Lauren shares. She grew up on air bases protected by fences and rode her bike all around for hours with her friends, rarely restricted to just backyard play. She likens herself and other military children to dandelions. “We thrive wherever our ‘seeds’ land and make friends with ease, deeply rooted in the shared experience of military life,” Lauren writes. “We blossom and thrive in new environments before being swept away in the wind of our military parents’ move to new stations.”
  3. All that moving can actually be fun. Navy wife Lisa Dolby had doubts as she packed up her family in San Diego for their move to New Hampshire. “I wondered at the time what kind of parents could take their kids away from so much love, stability, and happiness,” Lisa admits. Fortunately, they found a welcome and wonderful home in Portsmouth. Her son and daughter adapted seamlessly and the whole family learned about New England life. The family traveled throughout the region and had a great time living on the East Coast. But a year and a half after their move, it was time to move again. Back to San Diego. Lisa again wondered: “How do I successfully take these kids away from such a wonderful place?” She realized that people can choose to have wings or roots. “But they cannot have both,” Lisa writes. “This is what I want to tell my kids: Wings are good! Wings show you the world… We now continue that adventure together, in the Navy, as we explore our world together.”
  4. A little creativity can go a long way. During her Marine Corps husband’s first deployment, Jennifer Mears Weaver revised a traditional homecoming paper-chain project for her and her three children to do. “I had three little people depending on me, not to mention the little one growing inside me,” Jennifer shares. “I was searching for a lifeline, something physical to hold on to and hold us all up.” Since she didn’t know the exact day of her husband’s homecoming, Jennifer decided to add a link each day of the deployment, instead of removing one countdown-style. The kids included messages to their dad, and chose colors based on the season. “It was the history of our past six months,” Jennifer writes. When he returned home, the kids took turns explaining each link and its message. “I stood in the doorway watching them get reacquainted with their dad,” Jennifer shares. “And I was amazed at the strength of that paper chain—how it was now being used to bridge the gap in my family caused by this deployment.”
  5. Don’t forget to use the services of the USO. Something as simple as comfortable seating helped Beau McNeff feel at home while serving overseas. “I talked to my family almost every day while I was deployed, but I never truly felt there with them unless I was at the USO on a couch,” Beau says. “It helped me ‘be home’ for a moment each day.” And when his fourth child was born with complications and had go to the NICU, it was the USO’s services that allowed him to Skype and stay up-to-date on his daughter’s progress. “I got to be a concerned and doting dad, not a soldier, for a few minutes each day,” Beau shares. He also got to send a care package to his wife and new baby thanks to the USO. “Every time I stepped into the USO, I was a little more connected to the real world back home, a little more normal,” Beau says. “Home is truly what the USO provides when one is overseas.”
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