November designated as Month of the Military Family
Staff Sgt. Antonio Nieto, 50th Personnel Services Battalion, New Jersey Army National Guard, laughs with his daughter, Antonella, after returning from a year-long tour in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on Joint Base McGuire Dix-... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ARLINGTON, Va. (Nov. 3, 2015) -- Since 1993, the month of November has been recognized as Month of the Military Family across the Department of Defense as a way to thank all Family members, who have supported the career of a service member.

"National Guard Families are important because the strength of our service members comes from the strength of their Families," said Jennifer Armstrong, the readiness manager for the National Guard Bureau Family Programs office. "Families are a vital part of the Guard's ability to remain strong, and with thousands of service members deploying over the past 14 years, our Families have never wavered in their support despite the many challenges they have faced."

Though the focus is often on the immediate members of a Soldier's or airman's Family, and Armstrong said Family for most extends well beyond that.

"This month is to honor all Family members -- mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents," she said. "Friends can become Family, especially for those in the military because you're not always close to home and for some, employers are an extension of family as well."

That is especially true for the men and women scattered across the country, who serve in the Guard.

"When our citizen-Soldiers leave [on a deployment] they leave their Family behind, often times with no support other than themselves. A lot of times they are geo-dispersed; we're not installation-based. So November is when we honor those sacrifices that the entire [Family] makes," she said.

As a way to recognize those sacrifices, the National Guard Bureau is scheduled to host an expo Nov. 19 highlighting a number of services available to Family members through the military.

Armstrong said services that will be highlighted include child and youth programs, spouse employment programs, the Military Family Life Counseling program, which includes personal financial counseling, and volunteer programs.

The mission of the Guard is combat and service member readiness, Armstrong said.

"But we have to also think about Family readiness, because if your service member's home life is not together then [often] times they're not ready or able to deploy and be a productive member of that team," she said.

And as Guard members, having peace of mind about Family readiness often includes domestic operations as well.

"[Domestic operations] can happen overnight and because they happen like that we're called to serve our governors and states in a moment's notice, and that can be stressful to the Family," Armstrong said.

Which is why ensuring Family readiness is critical, she said.

"The military Family is important to the mission of the Guard, and we are committed to helping Families remain strong by providing the services necessary to ensure every member of the Family feels supported and connected to the military and the nation," Armstrong said.

Related Links: Army Families Human Interest News