Credit: SouthSoundTalk/Sonia Garza
Military families, new to a locality where no friends or family reside, often face isolation following a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move that can be overwhelming, notes a first-person column in SouthSoundTalk, a south Puget Sound site serving the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., community.
Newly relocated families can turn to Blue Star Families (an ADC event partner) whose mission is ensuring wherever military families move, they can always feel connected, supported and empowered in every community around the globe, according to the column.
Blue Star Families (BSF) is the largest chapter-based nonprofit organization serving active duty of all services, Guard and Reserve, wounded, transitioning veterans and their families, as well as retired military families and community members. In excess of 150,000 members, the organization touches more than 1.5 million military family members every year.
Founded by military spouses in 2009, Blue Star Families serves to empower military families to thrive. The organization is committed to strengthening military families through connections with neighbors and organizations, and to create vibrant communities of mutual support, the column notes.
Blue Star Families believe “We are stronger together,” according to its website.
The organization is on the forefront of the challenges facing military families and their annual
Military Family Lifestyle Survey provides military families a voice to identify the key aspects of military life. It also helps bridge the gap between military and community members/policy makers, according to the column.
The survey allows military families to identify areas of need and even frustration with more than 10,000 respondents from April to June. It is the largest military family survey and one of the most important resources for understanding the military community, the column notes.
Active duty members and veteran families have an opportunity to share opinions on topics ranging from military pay, PTSD and spouse employment, for example.
The top three military family concerns of the 2018 survey were the lengthy absence from family, military spouse employment, and military child education and impact of deployment on children. Forty-eight percent of military families indicated a lack of belonging to their local community, according to the column.
More details on this survey are available here.
Blue Star Families works to overcome these challenges and the isolation of frequent moves, deployments, and reduced government support, the column notes.
There are currently 10 stateside BSF chapters including Baltimore, Chicago, Jacksonville, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Tennessee, New York, Missouri and Hawaii. There is no Washington state chapter, but BSF remains accessible for all military families, relying on local volunteers to connect military families with their communities.