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Military is family

By Staff | Jan 23, 2009

I wrote last time “I can say from experience that the single most indispensable quality of any military officer is character.”

In fact, I also believe that character is the most important quality of any service member, regardless of rank, including their families.

Service in our armed forces demands depth of character from both the service member and his or her family. Character gives men and women the courage to reach deep within themselves and draw upon an inner strength will give them the best chance of carrying the day when push comes to shove.

Just as their families summon the courage to face up to the challenges in their daily lives while their loved ones are deployed overseas, service members draw upon that same strength of heart in times of great stress.

The most highly decorated soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines will invariably attribute their heroics to a team effort; the humble assertion that there are other people who stand behind their strength, courage and daring. Very simply, behind every hero is a unit, a team and/or a family.

This support consists of people both on and off the battlefield. Without this support, my fellow service members and I couldn’t be as focused or on top of our game as we need to be. Did you know that nearly 60 percent of our service members are married with families? Their stories are often not told, oftentimes unknown to anyone outside their immediate household.

Every family member is impacted when Mom or Dad takes the pledge to defend our country and risks his or her life to do so. Children in elementary school, like my sons, Ryan (9) and Benjamin (6), pay a price for freedom as they adjust to talking to Mommy or Daddy via telephone or over a video hook-up. Teenagers, like my daughter, Leigh (15), and my son, Patrick (13), also miss a deployed parent (although many would rather eat liver than admit it).

When America supports those who support our troops, they play a key role in our nation s defense. While military families are unique, they are common in their need for affirmation, encouragement and sometimes a helping hand.

My hope is that this article will help all of us learn how to be better patriots by not only supporting those who serve our country but by also learning how to better understand and support the families of our nation’s service members.

– Tom Maiden lives in Shepherdstown. When not serving, Tom teaches insurance and financial planning at and owns a financial planning practice in Shepherdstown.