How Military Families Can Fill the Empty Seat at the Holiday Table

How Military Families Can Fill the Empty Seat at the Holiday Table 550px

Most military families know the one piece of furniture that makes its way to every military ball: a table.

The table is set up with an empty chair in remembrance of a fallen comrade and allows all attendees a moment of pause and reflection on the oath to serve and the ultimate sacrifice.

Another meaningful table that’s likely had an empty chair? A military family’s dining table.

Military families deal with several bouts of separation from their service members—anything from deployments, ships out to sea, training operations, or career schools may be experienced in one year. Sometimes year after year. Milestone birthdays, anniversaries, and school events get missed. But the holidays, the gathering at the table for togetherness and hearty meals, may sting just a tad more.

So, how can military families combat the loneliness and sadness of seeing the empty chair at their dining table? The short answer—military family supporters.

Military Family Support for the Holidays

At the National Military Family Association, we understand the ups and downs of the unique military family life. We know that the availability of resources is crucial, like our deployment guidance webpage that lists tried and true programs for families, both virtual and onsite, that can be the perfect outlet for connection.

Alongside NMFA, there are other organizations that pour efforts into making the holidays more special for military families:

  • Trees for Troops: Looking for a locally grown Christmas tree for your home? Trees for Troops provides free, farm-grown trees to armed forces members in all military branches and their families. A complete list of pick-up locations for the trees will be available to participating bases and will surely add that holiday scent we all look forward to.
  • Operation Homefront: To alleviate the stress of holiday meal shopping, Operation Homefront assembles free take-home bags of traditional food items. With pick-up locations on or near military bases, this holiday tradition of giving ensures families can dress their dining table with their favorite holiday dishes.

And let’s not forget the community-based organizations that can be found on military bases, like the United Services Organization (USO) and Morale Welfare Recreation (MWR). Special dining options, arts and crafts, toy distribution, and tree lighting events are all activities that can be seen at military installations worldwide.

Filling Your Holidays With or Without Your Hero

Whether your military service member is home or abroad, there is support to help make the holidays still feel joyful. And if your dining table has an empty chair at the table this season, remember there are many ways to fill it with the generosity of military family organizations, like NMFA, that have your back.

By: Angela Sablan Tenorio, Content Manager


National Military Family Association
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Alexandria, VA 22314

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