Constant moving, deployment cycles that never seem to end, juggling career aspirations, educational pursuits…how in the world would we make time to get involved with our community?
And with so many opportunities to be a volunteer within communities, how would you even begin to decide which programs/organizations to volunteer with?
As we explore this topic keep in mind that we are limited to the military community; being military affiliated is a sub-sect of who we are. We are all a part of the physical locality of our communities, areas that we are passionate about and willing to fight for (examples: equal rights, religious, political, etc).
I posed the question to my Facebook Friends on why military spouses should give back to their communities. Here are their responses:
- Tesha J. says, “I came from a family who had little. If it wasn’t for people, who I call my angels on earth, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I want to pass on kindness and love because everyone deserves that.” What a great sentiment to “it takes a village.” Because it literally takes a village; it takes a village to support each other, it takes a village to show someone their value, and it takes a village to make sure that those in need aren’t needy. It takes a village to be each others’ advocates, biggest fans, and supporters. Tragedy can strike to anyone one of us at any time, Tesha makes a good and valid point, we should give back because others have given to us; the ultimate way to “pay it forward.” Giving back based on the love that was shown to us, and giving back not to gain wings but to gift your heart are simply the purest forms of love.
- The answer that Debbie S. gave was multi-fold, “shows the public that the spouse also has something to give; and teaches our children that we all have something to give.” I couldn’t cut down her response anymore, because I love each answer. So let’s tackle this one in stages. Giving back in the community “shows the public that the spouse has something to give.” I once had someone ask me what I was into, to tell them a little bit about me. I couldn’t honestly answer, because I didn’t honestly know. If I had been a volunteer, advocate, or community partner at that point in my life, I wouldn’t have been at a loss for words and near tears because I had somehow lost who I was through the course of years. Giving back to your community gives YOU a sense of purpose.
- In Debbie’s second comment, getting involved with the community “teaches our children that we all have something to give,” is a statement that I live and breathe by. My kids are my moral compass, before every word and every action I try to ask myself if I would be OK with my children in the same situation or reacting in the same way – depending on the answer to self I know how to proceed. Yes, I want my kids involved in our communities; it’s really the only way we can create or be a part of the change we are hoping to see. I want them to be proactive game changers, not reactive sore losers. I want them to understand that we each have abilities, and each ability has the potential to be helpful- we just have to know how to create synergy. And being involved gives back to self too: you get a sense of value, that money isn’t the only reward, and that you are not the only one that matters in the world.
- Natasha H. stated that “people in the civilian community might think that they know about military lifestyle but in reality what they have is either a view with rose-colored glasses or the opposite of doom and gloom.” Giving back to the community brings to reality other peoples lives and situations. When we give back to others outside of the military community we are allowing civilians to enter our world, as we enter theirs.
- My dear friend Erin W., whose husband recently retired reasoned that you should give back to your community “Because one day your spouse will leave the military. And it’s good to have a strong connection to the civilian community.” I cannot tell you how much I love this! Life evolves, and often times the evolution isn’t anything compared to how we once daydreamed it to be. Give to the communities which mean something to you, which can build your networks and your resume. Give to your community with the end goal in sight.
Regardless of the reason that you chose to give back to any one of the communities that you are a part of doing so is an important decision. Why do you give back? Let us know in the comments.