In honor of Military Appreciation Month, we met with Chris Valdez, Veteran Recruiting Liaison to gather insight on what the month marks for the men and women who volunteer to serve our country and protect our freedoms.
- Can you tell us a little more about Military Appreciation Month?
In 1999, Congress designated May as National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM) to ensure the nation was given the chance to publicly show their appreciation for troops past and present. NMAM honors, remembers, recognizes, and appreciates those who have served and continue to serve and comprises the following:
- May 1, 2020 Loyalty Day—kicks off the month-long celebration and encourages citizens to reaffirm their loyalty to the United States as well we reflect on their freedoms.
- May 3-9, 2020 Public Service Recognition Week—honors the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county, and local government employees.
- May 8, 2020 Victory in Europe Day (VE Day)—May 8, 1945 marks the day the Germans surrendered to the Allies, ending World War II.
- May 8, 2020 Military Spouse Appreciation Day—recognizes the important role military families play in keeping our Armed Forces strong and our country safe.
- May 16, 2020 Armed Forces Day—thanks military members for their patriotic service to our country
- May 25, 2020 Memorial Day—remembers our Veterans and commemorates the men and women who died while in military service; Americans are encouraged to pause, wherever they are, at 3:00 pm local time for a minute of silence.
- Why do you think Military Appreciation Month is valuable?
Military Appreciation Month brings awareness and remembrance to all service members from every U.S. Military Branch and status. Oftentimes, we fail to realize how each military job and specialty contributes to overall mission success and ultimately, the freedoms we enjoy every day. May highlights more than our nation’s military—it acknowledges the sacrifices of family as well. To me, it is so much more than just buying a “Support Our Troops” yellow ribbon sticker and putting it on your vehicle bumper—it provides an opportunity to reflect and pay gratitude.
- How do you honor the month?
Since my deployment overseas in 2015, I have completed the Murph Challenge on every Memorial Day. It’s a workout consisting of the following:
- 1 mile run (starting off)
- 100 pullups
- 200 pushups
- 300 squats
- 1 mile run (finishing off)
I wear a 20 lbs. vest or body armor while I complete the challenge and carry an American Flag during the mile runs. My best completion time is 47 min – I hope to beat that this year! The significance of the workout is to remember U.S. Navy SEAL LT Mike Murphy, who selflessly sacrificed his life for the safety of his team in Afghanistan. He put his life on the line close to over 100 enemy Taliban and small arms fire to call for air evacuation. For that, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Aside from the Murph Challenge, I watch military movies like Black Hawk Down, Lone Survivor, 13 Hours, Saving Private Ryan, etc. and reminisce by looking through old military photos taken with the Soldiers I served with. Normally, I would participate in local parades proudly wearing my Army uniform if we did not have stay at home orders.
- Military Appreciation Month symbolizes unity—what does this mean to you as a member of our armed forces, as a Cognosante employee?
Since joining the military, being part of a team is something I’ve always yearned for. Unity in strength is a common motto that most military units live by and it teaches us to work through our differences and focus on the mission. It doesn’t matter how we get the mission done, all that matters is that it gets done with the highest integrity and effort so others may live. Sometimes, it may include giving our life for the safety of others. That high code of honor is what I’ve lived by since the day I enlisted.
This translates to my work at Cognosante, especially with the VIPS value system. Many military service members have similar values and the cornerstones are the same – Loyalty, Duty, Honor, Respect, Selfless Service, Integrity, and Personal Courage. Given my background, I can easily understand, apply, and portray our values, daily.
- Military Spouse Appreciation Day—why is this so important in your opinion?
A military spouse lays the foundation for a military service member to focus on the mission. As service members are deployed, they leave behind their loved ones—spouse, child, pet, and other family members. Military Spouses are no stranger to sacrifice, especially on the home front. In the absence of their significant other, they take the lead and are resilient and adaptable. When I was deployed in 2015, my wife experienced a lot of changes with my absence. She learned how to handle bill payments, care for our two dogs, manage a full-time job and nursing school simultaneously, and more. Service members rely heavily on their significant others to “carry on” as they fight to preserve our freedom.
- Memorial Day honors service members who have passed in military service to the nation. The weekend usually poses opportunities for people to gather, however, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many will be choosing to mark this military holiday from the safety of their home this year. How can people still show their support?
The USO encourages all to #HonorFromHome and post photos or messages of thanks on social media for the sacrifices of service members and their families. A few other ways to support our military and Veterans are included below:
- Display an American flag at your home or business
- Share, like, comment, post and re-post on social media to build awareness of NMAM events and observances (note: Cognosante will author NMAM-specific content throughout the month so feel free to engage, there!)
- Send a care package to a soldier (contact USO)
- Encourage elected officials at all levels to recognize our military and veterans
- Thank service members for their service or surprise them with a coffee or dessert (at a safe distance of course)
- Encourage teacher friends or family to honor or recognize the designated days in their (online) classrooms
- Donate to a veteran or military charity
- Assist a veteran or military family in need
- Hire a Veteran (the current Veteran Unemployment rate is 3.8% as of March 2020)