When you’re a military family, national elections are deeply personal. It doesn’t matter who you voted for or what they believe. No matter what, the new person in office is going to hold the fate of your family’s day-to-day life in his or her hands for as long as they are around. The reality of service is taking orders from the Commander-in-Chief.
While a recent poll conducted by Military.com before the election indicated that those polled were overwhelmingly in support of Trump, the feedback on our story about the poll showed that plenty of people didn’t agree. And at the time of this writing the popularity vote between the two candidates is virtually 50/50.
That’s why it’s safe for me to say this: many of you today feel that you have elected the change that we need. Many of you feel that our nation has wildly missed the mark. Some of you are rejoicing. Some of you are scared.
But we all still need each other.
Military families are all in this fight together. For our service members, that fight is literal. For those of us on the home front, that fight is a challenge to stand next to each other and support each other in our times of needs — no matter our religion, background, color, gender or rank.
Today is the day after a presidential election, and no matter who you are or how late you stayed up last night or how you are feeling today, there a few things I think you should do.
What Military Families Should Do the Day After An Election
1. Stand up. One of my favorite things about our community is our ability to join arms with the people next to us when the going gets tough. Deployments and TDYs continue. Troop lives are still being lost. If you are having an easy time of it right now, you can remember a time that things were harder. Check on your neighbor today. And if they need someone to hold them up, show-up like you always do and like others always have for you.
2. Be a helper. Feeling jazzed that your candidate won? Feeling sad that yours didn’t? Take those feelings and use them to push you towards being a helper. Donate to your service’s emergency relief fund. Sign-up to volunteer at your Operation Homefront holiday meals distribution. Let a veteran know how much he or she means to you — and that their service is not forgotten.
3. Advocate for yourself. Regardless of who is in office, the loudest voice for you is you. Every fall we see the same parade of paycheck threats and budget problems — and it didn’t start with the current president. Only you can speak-up about the programs and benefits that are important to your family. That was true yesterday, it is true today and it will be true tomorrow.
4. Forgive and forget. This election season has been rough on all of us. For many it was deeply personal and people on both sides felt that the very fabric of who they are was attacked. We’ve all said things that were harsh or could’ve been seen as hurtful. But we were friends before these months of endless stump speeches for bigger reasons, and it is for those reasons that can push us forward. Let’s be friends again.
5. Take pride in who we are. Our service members fight to spread worldwide the kind of freedom of elections we enjoyed last night. You may not love who won, but you’ve got to be proud of the process. We were able to vote without fear. One candidate conceded to the other, and there was no violence or any kind of coup. And that’s something we can all be proud of.