When it comes to telling the service members in our lives how we feel about their sacrifices, the written word can go a long way. Through months of training, deployments, and far-away moves, “goodbye” becomes the word that bookends everything we want to say — a placeholder for all the things we want our service member to know.

To give military spouses, parents, and children a place to share their sentiments with the service members in their lives, Task & Purpose reached out to ask, “What does your service member mean to you?” And the responses were nothing shy of heartwarming.

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It’s not easy to watch your children willingly sign up to fight wars. But when they do, you have nothing but pride and respect for your son’s or daughter’s choice to serve.

This is what parents had to say to their children about their boundless pride …

Son, when you were born, you brought me such incredible happiness. When you joined the Army and had me pin on your ribbons, I realized how honored I am. I love you, support you, and always believe in you. My hero.  — Wendy M., New Mexico

My son, my soldier, my hero, I am so proud of you. I love you more than I can express. I pray for your safety and for you to draw close to the Lord. I ask for the Angels to watch over your coming and going and to wrap the love of God around you. I can not wait to wrap my arms of love around you. I am a very very proud Army mom. I miss you Jonathan. Your whole family is standing taller and prouder because of you. All my love, son. — Cindy F., Minnesota

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My son will always have my heart, but his service has caused him to have my respect, admiration, and appreciation. — Debby H., Pennsylvania

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When you marry a service member, you also marry into a life of deployments and moving constantly. But spouses want their husbands and wives to know they’ll support them no matter what, take care of things at home, remain strong, and always be waiting.

These spouses shared their unending support for their military partners …

My service member means everything to me and more. He is my strength, my love, my protector, my husband, and most importantly, my soldier. — Paige J., Michigan

My wife bears scars from her service, but I want her to know how proud I am of her. She sacrificed herself to protect our country and make a difference, and now she is passing on the values of, honor, bravery, and perseverance to our children. — Jason R., Rhode Island

My love, we’ve survived so much time separated from each other. So many nights alone, stints of leave too quickly gone, airplanes, and far too many “goodbyes.” No matter how much time we spend apart, I will love you and only you. This life is hard, but it would be so much harder without you. I remember the moment I realized you were everything I wanted and you were capable of giving me everything I needed. I didn’t think about how difficult the road would be, and I didn’t realize how long we’d be separated. But I knew that I wanted you by my side no matter what. I pray and hope we’ll be together soon. But no matter what, I’m not going anywhere. Deployment, separate duty stations, training, whatever, we can get through all of it.  — Cassy M., Arizona

I’m so proud of you and the amazing person you are. I miss your face and your voice. My world is missing the sun right now without you here. When you look up in the night sky know that I am under the same one sharing it with you, thinking of you and sending you all my love. — Melissa M., Florida

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There is nothing more heartbreaking as a child than watching your parent leave for months at a time, but these military children grow up with respect and admiration for their military moms and dads.

Children of military parents write of growing up with love and gratitude …

I’d love to tell my dad, “Thank you for being my daddy, my best friend, my hero, my Marine.” I love him and miss him so much. If only he could know the depths.  — MeLissa G., South Carolina

There are so many things that I can’t put into words, but here goes. I remember being so excited as a kid to tell all my friends, “My dad is a helicopter pilot.” You were my childhood hero. Even though everything about growing up a Navy brat was hard, I would never trade the childhood you and mom gave me for anything different. You made me stronger. I am so proud of every minute that you served, but I’m a million times more proud just to call you my dad. — Sarah S., Virginia

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When your friends deploy, you lose the closeness of seeing them everyday. Though your lives will change while you’re apart, they will always appreciate knowing they have someone back home rooting for them.

A loved one expresses inspiration he feels from his two best friends who served …

I’d like to tell two of my very best, lifelong friends that they embody what a soldier should be — dedicated, smart, and fearless. After listening to only a fraction of your experiences, I know I could never do what you have done. You’ve taught me that the old adage, “Freedom isn’t free” is completely true. What is most impressive is that after serving through the bulk of your 20s, you both came back to New York and became successful members of your respective communities. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for you both. — Mike V., New York

MetLife is proud to administer the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP). The TDP is available to all National Guard and Reserve members, family members of the National Guard and Reserve and active-duty family members.

TRICARE is a registered trademark of the Department of Defense, Defense Health Agency. All Rights Reserved. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, New York, NY © 2016 MetLife, Inc. © 2016 PNTS