Armed Forces Day is anmually observed the third Saturday in May, according to Steph Roland, and is a special day for all Americans to give recognition and to express gratitude to the men and women serving in the United States armed forces.
Roland, president of Support Our Troops of Highland County, told The Times-Gazette that from Loyalty Day, Silver Star Service Banner Day and Cold War Veterans Day on May 1, through Memorial Day on May 27, “May is always Military Appreciation Month, every year.”
“Though not many folks these days know about, or have ever even heard about Armed Forces Day, there is still a distinct population that has,” she said. “It’s those individuals that really understand the meaning of the day and truly understand the importance of recognizing it.”
Roland said there is always a way to honor and pay tribute to members of the armed services, acknowledging that in the immediate Highland County area there may not be many active duty personnel, but there are many immediate active duty families, as well as a lot of Army/Air National Guardsmen and Reservists.
She pointed out that Armed Forces Day is specifically meant to acknowledge those that are currently serving, and recommended mailing a greeting card or care package, acknowledging Armed Forces Day on social media or committing to pray for them, and asked everyone to consider what it would be like to be separated from a loved one for long periods of time and thousands of miles away in foreign lands that may not be friendly to Americans.
That was the situation that faced Cailin Hoskins, now a veteran’s service officer for the Highland County Veterans Service Office in Hillsboro, in mid 2017 when her Army National Guard unit was deployed to northern Iraq and later to Afghanistan.
She and her husband, Spec. Tully Hoskins, met while both were stationed in the same unit and married earlier that year before they were deployed. Her husband of two years returned to civilian life last December, while she mustered out in March.
“When we were first deployed, we went to Iraq for about six months,” she said. “Then they sent us to Afghanistan for three months before we came home.”
She described the experience as “scary in the beginning,” but knew that being deployed would keep her busy and there was always the knowledge that what she was doing was good for both the nation and its allies.
The Highland County Veterans Service Office periodically mails out cards and packages to current service members deployed from this area, Roland said. She recommended reaching out to the office or to other support organizations such as the local VFW posts or Support Our Troops of Highland County when it comes to supporting local deployed personnel.
As a former service member, she said mail day was a special time and a small package from home was especially meaningful and should contain anything that is a reminder of home — cards, pictures, newspapers or snacks, but to be sure any home-baked items are in a resealable plastic bag or a used Pringles potato chip cylinder.
“Even if a person wanted to drop something off and they don’t know who to send it to, they can bring it to our office and we’ll make sure it gets to somebody that needs a card or package,” Roland said.
In order to keep every service member “top of mind,” she said that her office is encouraging everyone to take part in RED Friday, which is every Friday, and stands for “Remember Everyone Deployed,” adding that the personnel in the local Veterans Service Office wear red every Friday “until they all come home.”
The armed forces were placed under one department in 1949, according to defense department records, with then-Defense Secretary Louis Johnson announcing the creation of Armed Forces Day, which was designed as a single day of remembrance for active service members, rather than having multiple days for each respective branch.
On May 20, 1950, the first official Armed Forces Day took place. Thousands of people participated in a New York City parade, a march of more than 10,000 people took place in Washington, D.C., and B-36 Peacekeeper bombers even flew over several state capitals that year.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.