May 9: National Military Spouse Appreciation Day

tt-spouse-appreciation_2.jpg"Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation" -- Kahlil Gibran

We celebrate National Military Spouse Appreciation Day the Friday before Mother’s Day. On this day, we honor the contributions and sacrifices made by military spouses. Their commitment and support help to keep our country safe.  America’s military spouses are the backbone of the families who support our troops during mission, deployment, reintegration and reset.

Military spouses are silent heroes who are essential to the strength of the nation, and they serve our country just like their loved ones. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan recognized the profound importance of spousal commitment to the readiness and well-being of military members with Proclamation 5184, dated April 17, 1984.  Congress officially made Military Spouse Appreciation Day part of National Military Appreciation Month in 1999.  Subsequently, the Department of Defense standardized the date by declaring the Friday before Mother’s Day every year as “Military Spouse Appreciation Day” to show appreciation for the sacrifices of military spouses.

Frankly, I think of military spouses — regardless of gender — as civilian heroes who daily plug along to keep a marriage, a family, a home, and, yes, the country together. They do it tirelessly and are mostly unheralded in their efforts. From the moment they say "I do" to a member of the military, they begin a life of service every bit as valuable as their spouse's. They give up careers to follow their loved one around the world, hold down the home front during deployments, and offer their unfailing love and support. It's a lot to ask of anyone, and they voluntarily shoulder this burden.

With this in mind, I have supported a variety of initiatives that demonstrate support for these deserving individuals. These proposals include:

Senate Bill No. 898: This bill requires the payment of $750 annual compensation payable to a surviving spouse of a blind or severely disabled wartime veteran to begin from April 9, 1985, for veterans who died before that date and from the date of the veterans’ death, regardless of when the surviving spouses file the application for this benefit, for veterans who died on or after that date.

Senate Bill No. 2448: It provides that several professional and occupational licensing boards in the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety shall not charge a license fee to a veteran or the spouse of a veteran when granting the veteran or spouse, based on reciprocity, a license to practice in New Jersey.

Senate Bill No. 2537: This bill would provide for an income tax credit, up to $500, for spouses of certain military service members who incur professional relicensing fees upon relocating to the state.

Senate Bill No. 2968: This bill would permit health care professionals to waive health insurance copayments for members of the military on active duty and their family members.

Senate Resolution No. 82: This bill urges Congress to enact the Military Surviving Spouse Equity Act. The offset of the Survivor benefit plan has an unfair penalty that cuts the earned benefit to military survivors. The offset amounts to an annual $15,095 reduction, which is a substantial burden for surviving military families. Our nation’s military personnel risk their lives to defend our nation’s freedom and should have faith that the government will provide the benefits designated for their families.

The commonality in these bills is clear. Exceptional sacrifice deserves special attention. They endure holidays, birthdays and major milestones without their military loved one….and unfortunately some have to deal with their loved one's ultimate sacrifice.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama once expressed her gratitude for military families at an event to honor military kids. "When we talk about service to our country, when we talk about all that sacrifice for a cause, when we talk about patriotism and courage and resilience, we're not just talking about our troops and our veterans," Obama said, "we're talking about our military families, as well." Our collective gratitude to those brave men and women “who serve” in battle should also be extended to those “who serve” humbly on the home front. I salute you and thank you for your sacrifice.

That’s my take, what’s yours?


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