Day of the Deployed is a relatively recent military observance, but it is no less meaningful to the men and women who serve on active duty, or the community members that honor their efforts on Oct. 26 each year.
Read on to learn about what the Day of the Deployed observance recognizes, how it came to be and how to support military servicemembers and their families at this time and throughout the year.
Origins of Day of the Deployed
The proposal to create a day recognizing the sacrifices and valor of servicemembers on deployment came from Shelle Michaels Aberle of Solider’s Angels, a nonprofit organization offering support to members of the military community.
In 2006, Aberle pitched the idea to then-governer of North Dakota John Hoeven, after being inspired by her cousin, LTC David Hosna, who was serving in Iraq at the time. North Dakota chose to recognize Day of the Deployed on Oct. 26 — Hosna’s birthday — and many other states quickly followed suit with their own state observances.
Several years later, when Hoeven became a U.S. Senator, he put forth a resolution to enact a nationwide Day of the Deployed. In 2011, this measure passed unanimously in the Senate.
Paying tribute to 200,000 deployed servicemembers
According to the Department of Defense, the U.S. armed forces have a presence across all seven continents, with some 4,800 defense sites across 160 countries. The New York Times estimated that roughly 200,000 servicemembers were deployed overseas as of late 2019.
When the national observance was adopted, Aberle described the state and federal recognition as “an honorable way to extend appreciation to the deployed service members and their families. Day of the Deployed is recognition for their hard work, dedication and commitment to the United States of America. This day is all about them.”
“Our U.S. service men and women currently deployed, along with their loved ones, make untold sacrifices as they serve our nation,” Hoeven remarked on the occasion. “A national Day of the Deployed pays tribute to their commitment to our country and their work to protect our freedoms. We want to ensure that our military members and their loved ones know of our appreciation and support before, during and after their service.”
Ways to raise awareness and offer support
Around the U.S. and across the globe, members and supporters of the military community can find countless morale-boosting ways to mark the occasion. Here are just a few ideas for Day of the Deployed:
- Send handwritten notes or care packages to deployed servicemembers in your life or through a nonprofit organization.
- Make a charitable donation to an organization that supports members of the armed services.
- Bring awareness to the observance and the experiences of deployed members of the armed focus and their families using the hashtag #DayoftheDeployed on social media.
- Display a yellow ribbon in support of the troops serving away from home.
- Spend time socializing with a military family — or offer support in the form of babysitting, running errands or delivering a homemade meal.
You can support a deployed servicemember in your life, or connect with a nonprofit organization to reach out to other military members. And don’t forget that your efforts need not be limited to the official Day of the Deployed.
“Even a small act of gratitude goes a long way,” Nicole Motsek of the EOD Warrior Foundation noted in an interview with U.S. Veterans Magazine. “Any time of the year is a great time to show gratitude for the deployed, but this day serves as a great reminder.”