Published: November 1, 2021
Family Volunteer Day: Meet Mitch
Did you know that only one in four active-duty family respondents to Blue Star Families’ 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey feel a sense of belonging to their local civilian community? In fact, one-third say they have no friends in the local community and nobody they can ask for a favor. Why is that a major problem? Because we know a lack of belonging is a mental health risk, putting stress on the entire family unit. And when there’s stress on a service member’s family, it jeopardizes their readiness and the military as a whole.
While we frequently talk about the resilience of military children, the pain of isolation caused by a lack of belonging affects them, too. That’s where Mitch hopes to help. He’s a military kid who’s following his parents’ lead, dedicating time to volunteerism to educate the civilian community and empower others like him to feel connected. “It is important for me to volunteer with the military community so I can mentor younger military children,” Mitch shared. “In retrospect, I wish I had more mentors or big brothers to show me the ropes. I’ve seen the impact mentorship can have. My mom volunteers all the time and is able to connect with other military spouses. It can be challenging with frequent moves and friends moving away. I hope to help as many kids as possible just like my mom does for other adults.”
The reality is, military families move three times as often as their civilian peers, with most moving every two to three years. That leaves military kids starting over as the “new kid” in town all too often. For that reason (among many), at Blue Star Families, we strive to be connectors — empowering military and Veteran families to create connections to their communities to help them feel a part of something, feel supported, and feel like they belong. That’s how they thrive. And we’re fortunate to have so many wonderful volunteers across the country who support that mission — volunteers like Mitch.
Mitch is a role model for younger military kids because he’s been in their shoes. At 16, he has moved four times and endured five deployments. “My father also did two unaccompanied tours to allow our family to remain stabilized in Maryland,” Mitch recalled. “I was happy to get to stay in the same community of friends, but the separations and deployments are never easy. I can remember several times saying to myself, ‘I wish my Dad could see this.’”
That explains why, according to the 2019 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, 52% of respondents found friends to be most helpful when dealing with separation from their service member. Mitch aims to be that friend and point of connection for other military kids in the Baltimore community. And his commitment to serving others is something he’s dedicated to for the long haul.
“I have truly enjoyed serving the military community, especially [at] all the amazing Blue Star Families events!” Mitch shared. “I aspire to attend one of the U.S. military academies, [to] serve as a leader in our military while pursuing medicine or engineering. It is a strong aspiration of mine to one day become a physician because I really enjoy helping others.”
On Family Volunteer Day, we want to recognize Mitch’s commitment to supporting and mentoring military kids. And shoutout to his mom Tracey for setting a great example for Mitch to follow!
Ready to volunteer with Blue Star Families? We hope you’ll join our team at www.bluestarfam.org/volunteer.