Published: November 2, 2021
Hitting the Ground Running with Blue Star Welcome Week
Why did we start Blue Star Welcome Week? Because each year, approximately 600,000 military-connected individuals move, causing instability and often devastating feelings of isolation for the family members who move with them. These family members are serving and sacrificing alongside their service member every single day. And they’re struggling to belong. In fact, in response to the 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, only one in four (27%) active-duty family respondents feel a sense of belonging to their local civilian community.
Valerie’s family knows what it feels like when you can’t seem to find your place in your community. After spending six years serving in the reserves, and finding stability in one location, Valerie’s husband returned to active duty. As a result, her family found themselves moving every few years, which proved to be a difficult adjustment. “At the start of our marriage, when my husband was active duty, the moves and constant change were a little easier to handle,” Valerie recalled. “I was a stay-at-home mother, and our son was not in school. But now that I have established a career (thanks to being in one spot during my husband’s time in the reserves), and have a son in school, moving is becoming much harder on our family. My career is starting to suffer, and moving schools is hard on our son, Anthony. Plus, Anthony also has some medical conditions, and getting referrals and finding new doctors is very time consuming. It can feel overwhelming and sometimes even insurmountable. It’s painful to see my family suffering.”
While managing so many obstacles already, Valerie’s family came up on orders. Knowing they were about to face yet another move, plus an extremely challenging housing market, she recognized they’d need help finding their footing. So, what did Valerie do? She quickly started searching online for resources, just as any military-connected family member would do. “One thing that always helps during the transition to a new community for us is connecting with people who have been in our shoes,” Valerie shared. “It makes getting to know the area so much easier. I always start with social media pages to see what other families are recommending and what their experiences have been.”
It was during one of those social media searches when Valerie found Blue Star Families. Her family hadn’t yet utilized the resources, but their upcoming move was taking them to a Blue Star Chapter location. And, as luck would have it, they would arrive just in time for the start of Blue Star Welcome Week.
“As an only child, my son doesn’t have brothers or sisters at home providing friendships and connections that make moves a little easier,” Valerie said. “I have learned getting him involved right away makes the transition process much easier for our family. When I came across Blue Star Families on Facebook, I was so excited to see that they were having a welcome event on the very same day we would be arriving in town. It seems so simple, the idea of welcoming new families to a new community, but it means so much to us. Connections made right after a move are true lifelines for military families. It can be the difference between suffering with painful isolation and depression and feeling empowered to get out there and thrive. Having the football camp and the tour of Wrigley Field the first few days we arrived was awesome! My son was able to meet other kids, and there was even a little something for myself with the box from Ulta. It’s something that might seem small to others, but a lot of the items in the box are things that we were unable to move across the country. It was not only appreciated, but very much needed! We look forward to attending more events and continuing to connect with our new neighbors!”
That’s exactly what Blue Star Welcome Week was designed to do — lessen the burden and welcome military and Veteran families home. But they’re counting on us all year long. So, we’re working hard to turn this annual, week-long moment into a year-long movement, and we need your help! Join us in making a difference for families like Valerie’s — families who continue to make sacrifices for the greater good. They deserve to feel at home.
Learn how you can continue to get involved at www.bluestarwelcomeweek.org.