Posted by Jayne Davis

Remember those small, hard candy hearts that professed feelings of love and affection? They had inscriptions such as, “Be Mine,” “U R 2 Cool,” “Love” and “No Chance.” Whoops. That’s one you didn’t want; you probably threw it back in the bag and started over. In real-life relationships, we try hard not to start over. Fortunately, there are many ways we can avoid getting to the point of “no chance” if we take the time to make adjustments in how we relate to one another.

Military couples experience extra challenges in their relationships, from deployments to reunions to finding that sweet spot again after an absence where harmony triumphs over discord. Add-in relationship complications from a partner’s post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the need to communicate productively takes on another dimension.

How are we as a nation communicating to our returning warriors? Do we need to make some adjustments? If we had to pick a candy heart that represents our messaging, we’d probably say it was “Honor,” “Respect” or “Bravo.” What if we’re really saying to them, “No Chance”? No chance we’ll understand changed behaviors; no chance we’ll accommodate new sensitivities; no chance we’ll go beyond words and thank them for their service with actions that will help them get back to a whole life again.

I think most Americans agree that the brave men and women who went off to serve this nation have paid a heavy price for the honor. Now, many are paying another price– the price of re-admission to the lives they left behind in their call to duty. While most of us can’t participate at the professional levels of care, there’s something each of us can do for military families down the street, around town or across the nation. It may be an offer to watch children to give Mom and Dad some extra time in their day; a donation of goods that fills in some gaps in the budget; or if you have the skills, tutoring help with educational objectives. With the war in Iraq phased out and American commitments in Afghanistan winding down, there’s a growing surge in service members that need jobs. If you really want to say thank you, hire a veteran or member of the Guard and Reserve. Find out all you need about hiring service members from Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

Big actions or small, they all count. Maybe it’s time to let our actions speak louder than our words for the families who have borne the stress of ten years of war and need our support. Maybe they all deserve a valentine heart candy from the nation that says: “Chances R Good.”