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.
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:
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.
Since my deployment overseas in 2015, I have completed the Murph Challenge on every Memorial Day. It’s a workout consisting of the following:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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