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Extension > Family Matters > Memorial Day: More than a Monday Holiday?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Memorial Day: More than a Monday Holiday?

By Sara Croymans, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency

For many, Memorial Day signifies the start of the summer season with a three-day weekend. But for many others, it is a time to pause and remember the service members who have served and died in our country’s Armed Forces.

America’s Armed Forces and Their Families

What does our current military look like? According to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) 2015 Demographics: Profile of the Military Community, report Minnesota is home to 492 Active Duty Service members and 18,835 Selected Reserve members (National Guard and Reserve). On a national level, there are 2.4 million Active Duty and Selected Reserve members. Just over half (50.6 percent) of military members are married. Nationally, service members have 3.8 million family members, including spouses, children, and adult dependents.

Helping Families Navigate Transitions

a purple pentagon with three stick figures next to the text "Family Transitions Military Families Learning Network"
In 2015, the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development began providing leadership for the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Family Transitions concentration area.

The Family Transitions concentration area provides education, resources and networking opportunities for professionals working with military families to help those families build resilience and navigate life cycle transitions. The MFLN Family Transitions team provides professional development through webinars, wrap around education, and engagement opportunities.

MFLN connects military family service providers and Cooperative Extension educators working with military families to timely and clear research, and to one another. Other concentration areas include Community Capacity Building, Family Development, Military Caregiving, Network Literacy, Nutrition and Wellness, and Personal Finance.

‘Military Family’ Means ‘My Family’

I am passionate about providing support for military families because our family is a military family. My husband, David, served 22 ½ years with the South Dakota National Guard 740th Transportation Unit. He was deployed for 9 months for Operation Desert Storm (1990–91) and for 18 months during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003–04). Two of our three children, Kristen and Jesse, as well as our son-in-law Jared, are currently serving in the National Guard. We have experienced firsthand the challenges and joys of serving our country.

a young woman in military fatigues holding a baby
Sara’s daughter Kristen and grandson Luke
reunite after a weekend guard drill.

Your Turn

How about you? Is anyone in your family in the armed forces? Whether you are related to a military service member or not, I encourage you to celebrate this Memorial Day by remembering those who have sacrificed their lives. Here are some options:
Service members and their families are known to be resilient, but face many unique challenges related to military life. As you kick off your summer, take time to remember the thousands of service members who are committed to serving this country, just as we are committed to serving Minnesota families.

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