Photo: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Gin-Sophie DeBellotte

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but on Instagram, a picture is also worth the accompanying captions and hashtags. Last week, we wanted to harness those stories through an Instagram photo challenge celebrating military families and their experiences–the good, the frustrating, and the mundane.

We asked folks to share a picture surrounding a daily topic:


Are you ready for the #BSFMillife photo challenge? Help us celebrate everything about military life, starting tomorrow! Every day, snap a picture in response to the day’s topic and post it on your IG, using #BSFMillife and #BSFSurvey! And don’t forget to take the #BSFSurvey to add your voice and experience so that leaders in government and the private sector understand what military families face. Direct link to the survey is in our bio. . . . #BSFMilLife #BSFSurvey #militaryspouse #milspouse #militarylife #milso #milspo #armyspouse #navyspouse #usafspouse #uscgspouse #usmcspouse #militaryfamily #milfam #army #navy #airforce #coastguard #nationalguard #marinecorps #veteran #veterans #militarymom #militarydad #leadership #government #congress #deployment #pcs

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The diversity and beauty of those posts–even the ones about the frustrations of military life–blew us away. Here are some of the military life truths that were dropped last week:

1. We don’t just survive…

2. There is no one kind of military family

3. You don’t get used to it…

DAY 4: SHARE A FRUSTRATION ABOUT MILITARY LIFE. We don’t just get used to deployments, losing our jobs, or wiping away tears from our children’s cheeks when they have to say their PCS goodbyes. The hurry up and waits, high op-tempos, and red-tap aren’t things we learn to enjoy…but we get through them. Through tears, with grace or maybe a 4 letter word, or from the help of our friends and family, we get through it all. #militaryspouse #MilitaryFamily #BSFsurvey #BSFMilLife #InstaQuote # #quoteoftheday #lifequotes #quotes #MilitarySpouseBlogger #MilSo #Militarygirlfriend #ArmyWife #NavyWife #marinewife #AFwife #militarywife #armygirlfriend #navygirlfriend #militarylove #motivationalquotes #PCSproblems #BeSmartDoMore #Military #MilitaryLife

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4. Family takes on new meaning

5. The world is our neighborhood

6. Deployment life has different rules sometimes

7. Military life is more than homecoming videos

What do I wish people knew about military families? -That we all get by with a little help from friends. -That a little help goes a long way. -That military families are strong, but they don’t have super powers that make this life easy. -That everyone can make a positive difference in the world with everyday acts of kindness. -That I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for some very generous friends early in my milspouse career. -That military life is so much more than Homecoming videos. It takes strength to trudge through the long days sometimes. May is the month to appreciate service members and military spouses. It’s also the perfect time to complete the Blue Star Families annual survey to show organization what military life is really like and how things could improve.

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8. A lot of military families move a lot more than you think they do

9. Family is still important, even if they’re far away

The hardest truth?

The overwhelming majority of Americans don’t understand what life is life for military families. And if they don’t understand what life is like, they can’t help families. They can’t vote in military families’ best interests. They can’t advocate for better conditions. They can’t create policy or opportunities for military families. They can’t help to fix things.

In the words of Maya Angelou, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Blue Star Families works to help Americans know better what military families experience so that we can all do better for them, too.

That’s why it’s so important that people who are military affiliated take the Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey. It’s open from now until May 25 and is considered to be a reliable and preeminent resource for leaders across multiple sectors–including the government. That means that people who have a lot of power, but may not have a personal connection to the military, learn about military life–the good, the bad, and the solutions you prefer– from what you tell them.

That’s powerful.

You can learn more about the #BSFSurvey here. And you can lend your voice to this important document by taking the Survey here. (By the way, did we mention that you could win one of five $100 gift cards when you complete the Survey and enter the drawing?)