Published: May 3, 2021
Did you know military families move three times more often than their civilian counterparts? Most move every two to three years. Restarting in new communities can often be extremely isolating, and many military families don’t feel heard or understood by their civilian neighbors. In fact, according to the 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, less than one in four (21%) active duty family respondents feel the civilian community truly understands the sacrifices made by local military and veteran families.
That’s a major problem. Why? Because we know when family members don’t feel fulfilled at home, mission readiness suffers. Liz, a proud Marine Corps spouse and mom of two, understands those struggles after 21 years as a military family. “My boys would definitely say starting over and making friends and connections is the hardest part of being a military family,” Liz said. “Some moves, especially overseas, make it difficult for our family to visit and attend some important events for our boys and family. I know our sons would have loved to have their grandparents there for their award ceremonies, jiu-jitsu tournaments, or even graduation. It’s hard being away from family and missing so much.”
And the moves aren’t just impacting the kids. As a career educator, Liz has aspirations of moving into an administrative position. But just like making connections and friendships within the community, attaining those positions takes time. “By the time they get to know you, it’s usually time to up and move again,” Liz shared. But she doesn’t get discouraged. She’s learned to jump in and make the most of each new community instead. One way Liz accomplishes that? Through her involvement with Blue Star Families.
Even while stationed in Japan, where making connections can be particularly difficult, Liz knew who she could turn to: Blue Star Families and Starbucks. Despite being unable to set up a local Blue Star Chapter like she’d done in San Antonio, she found creative ways to create a sense of community. She turned to her connections at Blue Star Families and her local Starbucks in Okinawa to set up a military spouse appreciation event to say, “Thanks a latte for all you do!”
Come to find out, Liz would need that creativity more than ever as she faced her next challenge — moving from Japan back to the U.S., mid-pandemic. “Getting involved and connected with your community is always a challenge, and with the pandemic, it has just added a layer of difficulty to it,” Liz shared. “Usually, I hit the ground running and get involved in our local church and Boy Scout troop, but those things are happening a lot slower.”
But once again, Liz knew she had extra resources in her toolbox. “Now in Virginia and with the current pandemic restrictions, I volunteer with Blue Star Families whenever I see an opportunity posted,” Liz said. “So far, I’ve been able to set up a Yellow Ribbon tree [in honor of our deployed service members during the holidays] at our local Starbucks and did the Valentine’s Day card drop-off with Starbucks, too, which the baristas shared with service members and their families as part of their coffee orders. As an added bonus, I made a new frien
d in the process. The Starbucks store manager is also a military spouse and we really hit it off. I can’t wait to work on more events together as things start opening up more.”
At each twist and turn throughout military life, Liz and families like hers can turn to Blue Star Families and their local Starbucks to feel welcome and connected—wherever the mission takes them. “Our goal as parents is to raise good humans,” Liz said. “Blue Star Families is one way we can model for our children what it means to give back and get involved. It also shows them how to connect and establish roots wherever they land. We’ve always told our kids to leave a place better than how you found it. With Blue Star Families and the support of Starbucks, we can show them how to do just that.”
Starbucks goes above and beyond to support military families like Liz’s all year round by partnering with Blue Star Families in the form of programs, resources, and events. Through our partnership, we’ve hosted more than 1,500 events (like this one) and reached 1.5M military-connected individuals. Through this enduring relationship with Starbucks, Blue Star Families can continue its mission to empower military families by building strong communities of support around them, improving mission readiness and enhancing their sense of “belonging” to where they live.
And, in honor of Military Appreciation Month this May, Starbucks is raising its hand, again, to help. This time, though, they’re calling upon our civilian neighbors to join them in showing gratitude and support for all YOU (our military members and families) do to keep us going via an eGift Card Giveback. For every Military eGift Card purchased May 1-31, Starbucks will donate $5, split evenly between Blue Star Families and Operation Gratitude, to support our military community’s mental health and well-being.
Together, we’re here to serve you and remind you that “we’re here for you.” You always have a place where you belong—no matter where you are on your journey.
If you haven’t done so already, join our community to be the first to hear about our Starbucks Coffee Connect events (and so much more) here.