Published: July 8, 2021
Being a military family comes with exciting adventures and wonderful benefits. But it can also be stressful. Deployments, long working hours, and additional time away for training are just a few of the difficult things military families have to navigate. As a result, those challenges, to name a few, affect the mental health and well-being of both service members and their families. Oftentimes, the stress manifests as a lack of sleep. In fact, according to the 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, only 38% of active-duty family respondents get enough good quality sleep to function effectively. What’s more, 15% of active-duty service member respondents and 6% of active-duty spouse respondents have a current diagnosed sleep disorder.
More specifically, National Guard families face unique circumstances when managing both civilian life and military life, and they often have to transition between the two at a moment’s notice. Leah, an Army National Guard spouse and mom of two, is no stranger to the stress military families face. When Leah’s husband Paul transitioned from active-duty service to a National Guard position, they were excited about the opportunity to continue to serve while remaining in one location, so Leah could build her business. Although they love being part of the Guard community, they’ve endured five deployments and numerous training events lasting weeks or months. As a result, they’ve felt the stress of balancing both military and civilian life, and the sometimes rocky transitions between the two.
“One of the biggest dilemmas for the families of Guard members, who repeatedly come on and off of active-duty orders, tends to be gaps or lapses in health care coverage,” Leah explained. “What is supposed to be a seamless transfer from plan to plan due to a change in status often results in breaks in coverage. This repeatedly causes unwanted and untimely stress.”
Worrying about keeping their health care coverage active keeps Leah up at night. With two kids, a small business to run, and her husband deploying or leaving for training, another thing to keep her up at night is not what Leah needs. On top of that, when he’s not serving with the military, Leah’s husband is a full-time firefighter and paramedic. While Leah is concerned for his safety, she’s also concerned about him getting a good night’s sleep.
Paul works 24 hours on, 48 hours off. When he gets home from a shift, recharging and resetting is extremely important. But when balancing everything gets tough, that isn’t always possible. “Work stress often leads to inconsistent sleep, which causes burnout and stress for everyone,” Leah shared. “And when we’re stressed, the kids can feel it, too. They already have to deal with the difficulty of not understanding when or why he [my husband] isn’t here, why he’s not able to show up to school events or sports events. It’s important for us as parents to manage the stress, so it doesn’t trickle down to them. So much of being able to manage everything starts with getting solid sleep.”
That’s why when Leah saw that Blue Star Families teamed up with Macy’s and Moving with the Military to offer three lucky families a complete room makeover, she applied. Leah was hoping to receive a bedroom transformation that would provide her and her husband a place to de-stress and get some peace and quiet to sleep and reset. Having never won anything like this before, Leah didn’t think her family would actually get the makeover; however, she thought it was worth a shot. Much to her surprise, Leah’s family was randomly selected. Maria from Moving with the Military joined forces with Macy’s to plan and install an incredible bedroom space that would cover all of Leah and Paul’s must-haves.
“It is humbling that Macy’s and Blue Star Families recognize the sacrifices of not just the families of traditional active-duty soldiers but also the families of Guardsmen in this country who have been called on repeatedly since 9/11 for statewide and national emergencies, as well as overseas contingency operations,” Leah said. “We as military families chose this life, and we are happy to serve, but recognition for our family’s sacrifices is an incredible blessing. This space will mark a new chapter in our lives as we approach the twilight of a long and rewarding military career.”
Macy’s isn’t stopping there in support of military families. This summer, this incredible Blue Star Partner of ours “Salutes Those Who Serve.” What does that mean, exactly? Now through July 31st, Macy’s shoppers can round up their in-store purchases or shop online and donate to Blue Star Families and Bunker Labs.
Learn more about all the ways Macy’s is stepping up for military families and how you can get involved, too, by visiting macys.com/macysgives.