by Fathers Incorporated
As the leaves turn amber and the air carries the crisp scent of fall, Veterans Day arrives with a profound opportunity to honor the men and women who have donned the uniform of the United States Armed Forces. On this day, we not only remember the bravery and dedication of all veterans but also pay special homage to a unique and often unsung group among them—military dads. These fathers embody the dual dedication of serving their nation while also upholding the responsibilities of parenthood, often under the strain of long separations and the hardships of service.
The History and Purpose of Veterans Day
Veterans Day traces its roots back to the armistice which ended World War I, hostilities ceasing on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Originally known as Armistice Day, the date was first commemorated in 1919, on the first anniversary of the Great War’s end. It was a day of reflection and remembrance for those who served in what was then hoped to be “the war to end all wars.”
As history unfolded with the occurrence of subsequent conflicts, the significance of the day evolved. In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, the U.S. Congress, urged by veterans service organizations, struck out the word “Armistice” and inserted “Veterans”. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
The Sacrifice of Military Dads
The sacrifices made by military dads are manifold. These fathers often miss out on irreplaceable milestones: the first steps of their children, birthdays, holidays, graduations, and even the daily routines that form the precious, intangible bonds of family life. The commitment to serving their country comes with the heavy price of these absences, creating unique challenges for both the dads and their families.
Their dedication extends beyond the battlefield or their assignments. It’s a continuous sacrifice, encompassing the emotional toil on both the fathers away from home and the children and spouses who must fill the void of their absence. Military dads carry the weight of knowing the safety and well-being of their families rest in their hands, even when they cannot be there to protect them physically.
Moreover, the transition to coming home can be fraught with difficulty as these fathers have to reintegrate into a family dynamic that has evolved in their absence. The struggle to adapt to civilian life and to re-establish connections with children and partners can be a daunting task that requires patience, understanding, and support.
Fathers Incorporated’s Acknowledgment
Fathers Incorporated, an organization dedicated to the advancement of father involvement within families, profoundly appreciates the service of military fathers. Understanding the unique challenges these men face, Fathers Incorporated offers its gratitude and support, recognizing the double-duty military dads perform as protectors of both nation and family.
Kenneth Braswell, CEO of Fathers Incorporated, himself a veteran of the U.S. Army, speaks to the heart of service:
“Service was a calling for me—an opportunity to uphold the principles of freedom and democracy that are the pillars of our great nation. As a father, I also felt it was my duty to model the values of duty, honor, and personal responsibility for my children. Each time I put on that uniform, I knew I was serving something much larger than myself, and that realization came with a profound sense of purpose that extends to my role as a dad.”
Why Service Is Important
Braswell’s reflections bring to light the deep interconnection between the call of duty and the responsibilities of fatherhood. For many military dads, the decision to serve is interwoven with a desire to provide a secure future for their children and to embody the qualities they hope to pass on to them.
Struggles Military Dads Endure
The life of a military dad is punctuated by farewells and reunions, each with its own emotional landscape. The trials these fathers face are not just in the realm of physical danger but also in the psychological and emotional toll that service can exact. The military teaches its personnel to be strong and resilient, yet these attributes must be balanced with the openness and vulnerability that parenthood often demands.
When deployment calls, military dads must compartmentalize their roles, often suppressing their paternal instincts to focus on the mission at hand. This can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety, as they are unable to be present for their children’s daily lives and support their partners.
Upon returning home, the re-acclimation process can be another hurdle. Military dads may experience difficulties in relating to their families and adjusting to a civilian lifestyle. The challenge is not only in the re-establishment of relationships but also in coping with the psychological aftermath of their experiences during service.
How to Assist Military Dads in Transition
Assisting military dads in their transition back home is crucial. This support can take many forms, from offering a listening ear to providing resources for mental health and family counseling. Organizations and
communities can aid by facilitating environments where these fathers can share their experiences with others who have walked similar paths. Moreover, creating programs that assist with job placement, skill translation, and education can ease the practical aspects of re-entering civilian life.
Military fathers can benefit from family-focused activities that encourage reconnection and the rebuilding of bonds. These activities could range from retreats and family camps to counseling sessions designed for children and spouses to understand the changes their father may be going through. Such support mechanisms are crucial to fostering healthy family dynamics post-deployment.
Honoring and Supporting Our Military Dads
Honoring our military dads goes beyond the parades and ceremonies of Veterans Day. It involves an ongoing commitment to recognize their dual service and provide support that is as enduring as their sacrifice. Here are several ways to honor and support military fathers, whether they are home or abroad:
- Personal Acknowledgment: Taking the time to personally thank military dads for their service can have a significant impact. A simple gesture of appreciation can affirm their sacrifices and commitment.
- Family Support Initiatives: Participate in or donate to initiatives and programs that provide direct support to military families. This could involve sponsoring a child’s activities or providing care packages to families during deployments.
- Community Involvement: Communities can host events that both recognize the service of military dads and include family-friendly activities that promote bonding and shared experiences.
- Educational Resources: Providing educational materials to schools and community groups can help children and peers understand the experiences of military families, fostering empathy and support within the community.
- Legislative Advocacy: Advocating for policies that support military families, such as better healthcare, education benefits, and housing, is crucial. Encourage local representatives to prioritize these issues.
- Employment Opportunities: Support businesses that prioritize hiring veterans and advocate for workplace policies that are accommodating to the unique needs of military families.
- Mental Health Resources: Promote and support mental health programs tailored to veterans, focusing on the challenges of reintegration and the psychological impact of military service.
- Volunteer: Give your time to organizations that support veterans and their families. Volunteering at events, helping build homes, or providing services based on your skills can make a tangible difference.
In celebrating Veterans Day, we not only reflect on the valor and commitment of our nation’s service members but also shine a light on the extraordinary role that military dads play. The dual responsibility of these fathers as guardians of their country and their families is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.
Fathers Incorporated’s CEO Kenneth Braswell, a veteran himself, embodies this spirit. Through his leadership, he highlights the importance of service and fatherhood, inspiring us to consider the depth of sacrifice military dads make. On this Veterans Day, let’s pledge to honor and support our military dads in every way we can, ensuring that their service to the nation and their families is never forgotten.
As we partake in the traditions of Veterans Day, let’s carry the spirit of gratitude beyond the ceremonies. Let’s make it a part of our daily lives, offering support, understanding, and appreciation to the military dads among us, as they have offered us their unwavering commitment and sacrifice. It’s in these gestures—both big and small—that we truly honor our nation’s heroes.