Earlier this week, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained that “President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe [and therefore] he has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”

Veterans and military families appreciate appreciation — but not, as it quickly became clear, in the form of an expensive parade in which service members would be compelled to march. How, then, could the administration best show its gratefulness to the troops? Turns out there are lots of ways. I asked veterans and my fellow military family members to start a list. Here, in their own words, are 25 ideas we’d like to pass along to the deciders. Instead of a military parade, we would prefer:

  1. Adequate manning to run operations.
  2. Adequate support resources so both parent can work without the non-military spouse having to quit each deployment/move/shift change.
  3. Better dental coverage. Providers are dropping us left and right because they can’t afford the reimbursement rates they’re paid.
  4. Quicker response time to post-traumatic stress disorder issues to prevent suicides.
  5. Ensuring school districts surrounding military bases at least perform better than average compared to school districts around the country.
  6. Ensuring military gets paid during a shut down.
  7. Not shutting down the government.
  8. Ensuring that no food assistance is necessary for military families.  
  9. Licensure reciprocity for professionally licensed military spouses moving across state lines every freaking two years so I don’t have to spend thousands of dollars, take extra classes, drown in paperwork and start at the bottom of the food chain every state.”  
  10. In-state tuition fees instead of out-of-state tuition for military children for any state college in the U.S.
  11. Having military housing that’s not full of mold, with sewage systems that work properly.
  12. Actual new parent support, lactation consultants, childbirth educators, doulas on call in every MTF (military treatment facility) delivery room, and PARENTAL LEAVE that is guaranteed.”
  13. Shorter and or less frequent deployments; more equal sea duty/shore duty rotations.
  14. Support the new bill Sen. Tim Kaine just announced to help with military spouse unemployment and underemployment. Ensure the DoE continues to support MiC3 and protect our military children’s education. Follow through with boosting troop numbers and funding.
  15. Not letting active duty DACA members get screwed.
  16. Better support for special needs family and an EFMP system (for military special needs families) that works.
  17. More support staff in schools which serve military families with actual knowledge about military culture, trauma informed classrooms (especially in locations with constant deployments), ensuring that schools which serve military students have standard curriculum so our students don’t miss key things during moves, a standardized “registration” process which follows our children, so a school simply needs to log into the “system” and “transfer” the records instead of us having to fill out the same. damn. extensive. paperwork on EVERY move.
  18. Paying for service dogs for veterans with mental-health issues like they pay for wheelchairs or walkers. 
  19. Urgent care facilities at overseas stations to avoid ER visits for such innocuous things like pink eye and ear infections.
  20. Affordable produce prices at overseas commissaries.
  21. Move the base out of Naples [U.S. Naval Support Activity NaplesItaly, host to more than 50 separate commands and approximately 8,500 personnel] because of its toxic soil, air, and water.
  22. Addressing the mental health needs that arise in not just veterans, but children and spouses of active-duty service members.
  23. A housing allowance that actually allows for housing. Families who live off base often are only able to live somewhere that is not safe and/or does not have good schools because in many places BAH is not commensurate with cost of living.
  24. Stop covering up the fact that contaminated water caused women to miscarry in Lejeune.
  25. Removal of privatization in the military. MILITARY HOUSING SHOULD NOT BE FOR PROFIT.

Alison Buckholtz is the author of Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War.