FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- After church Sunday, my family and I enjoyed one of the largest meals we've had in a while; warm buttermilk biscuits, sausage gravy, three-egg omelet and hash browns. Not to mention the roast beef, fried chicken, cornbread dressing, rice pilaf and warm apple crisp. Before you marvel at the hard work and dedication I put into the meal, don't; I didn't cook a single thing. And, it was free.

As part of the post's Military Family Month events, those dishes, plus dozens more, were provided free to any military member and his or her family who came out to the NCO Club this Sunday.

The NCO Club manager, along with her staff, was on hand to greet us when we got there. Once we entered the ballroom, we could see the food tables lining the walls, in addition to the numerous dessert tables. In a corner, a woman was painting children's faces with the most intricate of designs. And each decorated dining table was quickly cleaned off by one of the club's attentive staff. Even Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation superhero Dot Com, played dutifully by Family and MWR marketing specialist Theresa O'Hagan, made an appearance. The only things missing, I thought, were the families.

My family and I rushed to the NCO Club immediately after the brunch started, thinking that we would get there at the beginning and hopefully beat the throng of people I knew would turn out. After the article and the huge Family and MWR ad in the paper and the constant Facebook updates, I was convinced the club would run out of food before I arrived.

What I encountered instead was a slow trickle of family members and half-empty tables.
As a family member and mom, I know how difficult it is to squeeze in yet another activity into an already busy day. And I know taking care of my one child isn't nearly as time-consuming as those who have two, three or more children. I also know that military installations, and the military as a whole, don't always remember us family members when plans are being made. But, I think that Fort Jackson's various organizations make a special effort to provide activities for us.

This month, Military Family Month, Family and MWR has gone above and beyond to create a month of free or low-cost events aimed at showing family members how much they are appreciated. In addition to the brunch, Family and MWR will give out prizes each week through Nov. 27 through a random drawing from its Facebook page. The Family and MWR Facebook page will also serve as host for essay, photo and caption contests.

Daily specials are also being offered at the bowling centers, Weston Lake, Palmetto Greens Miniature Golf and from the Fitness Department. And the annual Families of the Year Ceremony, which recognizes the contributions of military families - specifically Fort Jackson families - is also on tap for this month.

There is no way I can attend all of the events and some, such as bowling and miniature golf, may not be suitable for my toddler, but I will do what I can to support the hard work that has gone into the activities planned just for us.

And I hope other families will join me.