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Throughout our many years volunteering on behalf of Jewish colleagues in the military, my husband and I have seen firsthand that many individuals and organizations are excited about American Jewish service members’ contributions to the nation. People are quick to mention a child, in-law or cousin on active duty. Many have even visited the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, one of the few Jewish organizations recognizing that American Jews still serve honorably, and in ways that make a difference to the country. And a lot of people have sweet stories of a grandfather or great-uncle who marched in parades with the Jewish War Veterans.
The vast majority of people have open ears and an open heart when the subject of Jews in the military happens to come up. But it’s time for Jewish service members to stop having to ask for one-off favors and special treatment tailored to their unique needs. There’s plenty of goodwill. Now, Jewish organizations at the national level need the will to do right by the families who serve, and they can do this by including them in the institutions of communal life.
Alison Buckholtz is the author of “Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War” (Tarcher/Penguin, 2009).