Published: June 29, 2021
Military life is unpredictable. Between frequent moves, long-term separation due to deployments and training, and work schedules that aren’t family-friendly; many military families struggle to find stability, which compromises their mental well-being. In fact, according to the 2019 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, lack of control over military career and the uncertainty that accompanies military life is a top issue for active-duty family respondents.
Misty, a Coast Guard spouse and mother of two, is no stranger to the challenges that accompany military life. In eight years of marriage, she has been through six deployments or long-term separations with her husband, and they’re approaching their third move. This time, they’re going cross country, from South Carolina to California. When thinking about the struggles military families face, Misty shared: “The uncertainty of everything can be really hard. We never really know how long we will be somewhere, or where we will be heading next. For example, with our upcoming move, we were informed we would be moving with just a few months notice. It was especially difficult to wrap our minds around the news since we thought we would be here [South Carolina] for 1-2 more years.”
Misty’s family’s experience of receiving last-minute notice of their move is unfortunately all too common. Almost half (48%) of active-duty family respondents to the 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey reported receiving their “hard” orders two months or less in advance of their most recent PCS. That kind of timeline is very difficult for families, especially those with children. “Preparing and coordinating a move is always hard,” Misty said. “It also takes time to mentally prepare for adjusting to a new place where you don’t know anyone, which can be intimidating. Now, with children, I also need to help them adjust to leaving their friends and home as well.”
Without support, taking all of that on can cause a lot of stress. And we know when there is stress at home, mission readiness suffers. That’s why Blue Star Families is on a mission to drive awareness of the sacrifices military families are making and deliver programming to ensure military families are taken care of—no matter what military life throws their way. For starters, we’re pushing for policy changes that would increase service member influence over future assignments and allow military families to exercise greater control over whether or not they choose to accept an overseas assignment and/or the timing of such an assignment.
While our policy team is hard at work on changes with long-term implications, our programs and volunteer teams stand ready to support families in need of immediate opportunities. Misty connected with Blue Star Families after her first military move. She attended a movie screening that allowed her to join other military families and do something fun with her loved ones. When she moved again, having experienced the impact of Blue Star Families’ programs, Misty decided to get more involved. “When we got to Charleston, I noticed that the area would really benefit from Blue Star Families programming, so I signed up to be a volunteer,” she shared. “Through volunteering, I got to welcome many new military spouses to the area and see firsthand how it helped them meet new friends and adjust to their new community. While I’m anxious about our next move, I feel comforted knowing that I’ll have Blue Star Families to lean on for support. I am so excited to bring great programs to Monterey when I arrive there.”
Military families are counting on Blue Star Families to be the liaison that bridges the gap and keeps them mission ready, especially while they deal with the stress of moving. We do this by maintaining a pulse on their concerns through our survey, then using the data to find solutions to their challenges by fostering collaborations, informing legislative change, and creating free events, programs, and resources.
Why? Because our nation is strongest when our service members and their families are thriving. We’ll continue to be there to support families like Misty’s as they tackle each new adventure. We’d love to support you, too! Join Blue Star Families to access our programs, resources, and events at no cost to you. Become a member at bluestarfam.org/join.