Where are you? You should be here. Maybe you’re sitting in the back? If you are…
…can they hear you in the front of the room? Because, if they do, if they truly hear what you’re trying to tell them, you might make change. Really big change.
>>>You know when you get really pissed about jumping through a million different hoops to get your baby on the Child Development Center list. Only to find out the list is pages long.
>>>And you just want to go back to work! Or even find work! And, yeah, you’d really like a referral to a specialist so you can talk to someone about a suspicious mole. It shouldn’t take ten calls.
And now you’re upset, depressed, and, honestly, pretty mad. Because it should not be this hard.
This survey… it’s about that and about the many other things that may push you as a military family to opt out of military life down the road.
Let me back up. This week, I attended the Blue Star Families 2018 Military Family Lifestyle Survey release at the American Red Cross in D.C. This survey is a big deal. The reason: it helps decision makers know what to focus on when it comes to you and your family.
So, if you just clicked past your friend begging to take this survey last year, please reconsider next year. But keep reading. This is important.
The Blue Star Families’ 2018 survey highlights the top issues identified by military families, like yours, over the past year.
What were the top 5 issues for Active Duty Spouses?
Amount of time the service member spent away from family | Military spouse employment | Military child education | Impact of deployment on children | Military pay & benefits
Amount of time away was the top concern for military families for the second year, and financial issues/stress was the top lifestyle stressor for the first time among military family respondents.
So, I’m sure by now you’re thinking… “okay, that’s nice, but why should I REALLY care…”
In the room for the survey release were DoD officials, senior military spouses, senators, anchors from major news networks and… military spouses just like you.
Some are moms and dads. Some work for nonprofits. Some just wanted to hear the results. But all are advocates in the making…
They all heard the same information. The four-star general, the nonprofit advisor, the senior spouse, and the corporate sponsor. They all heard it. But, what they do with it, well, in part that depends on you.
In an ideal world, they take home this wonderfully packaged information and start making lists and get to work.
Okay, we all know: it takes a long, long, long time to make change happen in the military world.
But there is a game changer. And it’s YOU, military spouse. You with your well-organized binder. It’s you, the military spouse (and yes there was one!) who stands up in the back of the room and asks: why? Why do our houses have mold?
Why is my kid having to take Virginia history over the summer to graduate high school? Why can’t my special needs kid get the appointments she needs to thrive? Why do we move so much because it means I can’t get a job? And why is it this way and EVEN BIGGER: why can’t it be better for our military families?
Because, if it doesn’t get better, if these problems aren’t addressed, the already small percentage of our society who are fit, ready, and the right person to step up to serve will… opt out.
Happy Family. Happy Service Member. Happy Military.
The past has proven what it takes to transform survey results, like the Blue Star Families surveys, into change for military families. It is military spouses like you who stand up and say, “this is important! This is really important.”
Need proof? Here are five military spouses who stood up and started speaking out. They are current and former military spouses just like you who wanted to make things better for themselves and military families like yours…. And, when they talked, the military listened.
Erica McMannes, Army spouse. Founder of Instant Teams. Spoke up in 2017 to address the issue of blocking home based businesses on post. Her message was carried forward by organizations like AUSA. Last week, the Army announced some BIG changes when it comes to home based businesses – knocking down many of the barriers that previously existed. Thanks, Erica!
Megan Harless, Army spouse. Spoke up in response to the large amount of issues from the 2018 summer PCS season. She took to her Facebook page, Military Spouse Chronicles, and authored an open letter turned petition which garnered over 100,000 signatures and received the attention of Congress and top military officials on PCS issues. Thanks, Megan!
Ashley Broadway-Mack, Army spouse. President of the American Military Partner Association (AMPA). Spoke up after living in the shadows as the same-sex partner of a service member under the threat of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Ashley is a founding board member of AMPA. She is an influential voice for LGBT military families and the inequalities they face. Thanks, Ashley!
Jeremy Hilton, Navy spouse. Spoke up after resigning his commission from the Navy to care for his daughter, who was born with significant medical issues. After her birth, Jeremy assumed a leadership role advocating for families affected by chronic medical conditions and disabilities. He has become a vocal advocate for military families who are fighting for care for their children. Thanks, Jeremy!
Lakesha Cole, Marine Corps spouse. Spoke up when she wanted to open a small business but was blocked by the many barriers in her way, including those the military had built itself.
Her advocacy on military spouse employment issues caught the attention of changemakers like U.S. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, who spoke at the Blue Star families event this week, and whose work has shaped legislation to combat the issues plaguing military spouse employment. Thanks, Lakesha!
There are many more military spouses who belong on this list. Their voices have led the changes we all benefit from today and will benefit from tomorrow.
Now, it’s your turn. Blue Star Families just gave you what you need to get started. Data. And, if there is something the military likes to have, it’s cold, hard facts. Now it’s up to you to put a face to it.