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In 1984, President Ronald Reagan established Military Spouse Appreciation Day with Proclamation 5184.  This effort recognized the countless sacrifices made by military spouses and acknowledged their vital contribution to force wellness and readiness.

During his proclamation, President Reagan stated:

“(Military spouses) subordinated their personal and professional aspirations to the greater benefit of the service family. Responding to the call of duty, they frequently endured long periods of separation or left familiar surroundings and friends to re-establish their homes in distant places. And there they became American ambassadors abroad. As volunteers, military spouses have provided exemplary service and leadership in educational, community, recreational, religious, social and cultural endeavors. And as parents and homemakers, they preserve the cornerstone of our nation’s strength – the American family.”

In 1999, Congress officially made the Friday before Mother’s Day Military Spouse Appreciation Day, which we will celebrate on May 6 this year.

In the years since the proclamation, the role of the military spouse has continued to expand, not to mention the growing number of dual military members serving in our armed forces. We have more spouses pursuing higher education, professional careers, entrepreneurship and volunteerism than ever before. Our military spouses are masters of adapting and overcoming, persevering during the many challenges inherent to this lifestyle. They do it all with grace and humility, not seeking recognition or compensation.

So, how can we show appreciation to our military spouses for all that they do? Here are ten ideas to get you started:

1. Thank them. Often. Not just on Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

2. Spend quality time with them. Surprise them with a date night or family outing that you planned-start-to-finish.

3. Give them a card. A few sincere words can mean a lot.

4. Write them a poem. Be creative! Rhyming optional.

5. Make dinner. Take out or home cooked, clean-up, too.

6. Make a bucket list together of things you want to do at your current duty station. Then do one!

7. Talk with your spouse about their goals. Short term and long term. Support them in achieving these goals.

8. Give them a day off. Take care of all the household duties for a day.

9. Pamper them. Give them a massage or send them out for a spa treatment.

10. Show them you love them. Everyone has their own love language, understand the love language of your spouse and do something that shows them you love them.

The role of the military spouse is challenging, no matter the situation. Being a military spouse is a lifestyle that requires commitment and grit, strength and resilience.

Our military spouses are the unsung heroes of our nation. As Military Spouse Appreciation Day approaches, please take a moment to thank them for all that they do.