Make 2017 the year of the military family

The annual Christmas parade brought fun and holiday cheer to Lynn last weekend. But it also reinforced an important reminder with a float dedicated to veterans, reminding parade-goers that “not everyone is home for the holidays.”

With 2017 arriving fresh and new, now is a great opportunity to focus on Americans serving in the military who are stationed at home and around the world. These people are volunteers and military service enhances their lives as much as it ensures protection for all Americans. Americans in uniform are on duty while most of their fellow citizens enjoy family time, shopping at the mall, working and taking vacations.

The new year is a great opportunity to renew a call for national leaders to assess the needs of military servicemen and women and to determine how to meet those needs. Helping people serving the country in uniform is a job every American can shoulder.

Congress and the president-elect must be held accountable to meet the needs of Americans serving their country. Local veterans services agents and directors need the resources to help military personnel and veterans seeking benefits.

Every American has a chance to make a phone call or send an email or text to someone who is paid to assist military personnel and veterans. But Americans in every community in the country also have opportunities to reach out to military families and ensure they get a helping hand.

For every man or woman serving the United States overseas, there are parents or siblings, spouses and children who are making sacrifices or struggling with the knowledge their loved one is thousands of miles away.

Some of these families need financial aid. Some need a friendly person to help them cut through government red tape. Others need someone to talk to or someone who can babysit or maybe run an errand.

The nation will honor military personnel and veterans in May and November, 2017. But 2017 can also be a year to extend helping hands every day to military families. Every day can provide an opportunity to help a family with a son, daughter, sister, brother, mother or father in uniform. This can be the year that ends with Americans feeling proud about the work they did to make sure loneliness, isolation and frustration are not burdens carried by families who, on any given day, could be faced with the ultimate sacrifice made by a loved one in uniform.

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