Day of the Deployed
Since 9/11, our military members have been on the road more than any generation before them. Some families will serve a few deployments, others will have tours numbering in the double digits. This aspect of service is unique—and is something that is hard to grasp for those who have never gone through it. Most couples won’t spend more than a few days apart from their partner, nonetheless months or even a year.
With this in mind, in 2006 North Dakota started what is now known as the Day of the Deployed. The holiday started when then-governor John Hoeven was approached by a constituent, Shelle Michaels Aberle, to create a day that honored our deployed service members. Her inspiration was her cousin, LTC David Hosna, who was deployed to Iraq at the time. She recommended the day fall on his birthday, October 26, and from then on the day was officially known as Day of the Deployed in North Dakota. After the first year, more states adopted the holiday, and it is now recognized in all 50 states.
Here in the Black Hills, we have both active duty Air Force and South Dakota National Guard members in our community. Throughout their many missions, it’s almost guaranteed that several of them are away from their families on any given day; whether that be their spouses and children, or their parents, siblings, and extended family. While individual names can’t be released due to privacy and safety concerns of the members involved, there are some things community members can do to support them on this holiday—and all year round.
Send a care package: even if you don’t know someone specifically, there are organizations locally and nationally that can direct you where to send them.
Foster their four-legged companions: Dogs on Deployment is a national organization dedicated to helping service members find a loving home for their dog—or cats, birds, lizards, really any pet—while they’re away. Even if they don’t have animals in your area, there are many ways you can support from afar for locations that have a bigger need.
Ask around! There’s bound to be somebody in your social circle that is going through a deployment. Ask your children, too, as they probably know another child in their school who has a parent deployed. Families especially can always use the extra hand, as spouses are now taking on all of life’s demands on their own, not to mention if they’re now also a single parent.
If you know someone who is deployed, send them or their family a message. We often recognize members when they leave and when they come home; but families can feel forgotten during the deployment when everyone else’s life has gone back to normal. Even a quick note to see how they’re doing helps.
Finally, raise awareness by displaying a yellow ribbon at home or at work, donate your time at a local veteran’s organization, or use the social media hashtag #DayoftheDeployed when you post. Just be sure not to post any specific details of where people are deployed, or when they might be home. Such information needs to be protected for the safety of our troops and their families.
Every little bit counts, and lets our deployed troops know that we appreciate the sacrifice they and their families make for our country.