By Clare Bratten
NASHVILLE – Anyone who has served in the military or is a family member of a service member or a veteran is urged to take part in a national survey on the well being and needs of military families. The survey is conducted by BlueStar Families organization – a national nonprofit that works to support the families of service members. They want veterans, active duty, National Guard and reservists and their family members (including parents) to take the survey by Oct. 2020. It is the largest, most comprehensive survey of its kind.
This survey will help to highlight issues uniquely faced by military families who might be faced with the birth of a child while a service member is on deployment overseas, the need for a military spouse to find work, childcare, pressures on older children who attend a different school every few years, psychological effects on families caring for returning war veterans suffering from injuries or PTSD and other issues. The survey can be found on the Blue Star Family web page at https://bluestarfam.org.
“We’ve been around since 2009 when a group of military spouses noticed that civilians didn’t understand military life and there was an increasing gap between military and civilian communities in which they lived. Most military families–about 70 percent–live in civilian communities,” said Jessica Strong, co-director of Applied Research for Blue Star Families.
Strong stressed the urgency of participating in the survey.
“It started in 2009 with 2,700 respondents and last year was our 10th fielding we had 11,228 so it has really grown and become a trusted source on military family lifestyle issues for DOD leadership, civilian leadership, congressional and legislative leaders, local civilian leaders – even philanthropy and corporations that are giving are looking at our research to see ‘how can we help.’“
“If we want to elevate the voices of military families, we have to know what those voices are saying.”
“One of the things that keeps coming up in military families is that military children keep moving from place to place. That comes with some unique abilities, you get to travel, [but] your kids are transferring from school to school to school and lose their friends every time. Moving away from your friends in high school from your friends — that’s hard when you are a teenager – that’s who your peer group is,” Strong said.
Another focus the research hopes to reveal is the difficulty spouses of military service members have in finding employment when they move so frequently into new communities.
“One of the issues we highlighted was military spouse employment – last year there was an executive order addressing military spouse unemployment and underemployment. We have careers programs that try to help spouses become employed and maintain employment.”
“This year, our staff presented in front of congress on veteran food insecurity because we gathered some information on food insecurity among active duty military families. Senator Blumenthal introduced the Command Accountability for Military Readiness Act based on our research.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s [D-CT] bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Gillibrand [D-NY] and was introduced in May of this year. The bill tries to remedy some of the challenges military families face highlighted by the survey.
There are currently 11 chapters of Blue Star Families serving 1.5 million military family members and one chapter is in Nashville and Fort Campbell.