Published: October 20, 2023
Third Cohort of Blue Star Families’ DEPLOY Fellows Adds Family Retention and DEI Focus
National program designed to address inequities in the service experiences of diverse military families
WASHINGTON, DC (October 23, 2023) – Today Blue Star Families (BSF), the nation’s largest nonprofit dedicated to supporting military families and strengthening communities across the United States, welcomed the third class of community leaders and spouses as part of their “Diversify and Expand the Pipeline of Leaders of Your military communities” (DEPLOY) Fellowship program. The DEPLOY Fellowship is a key element of the Campaign for Inclusion (CFI) initiative, an effort that conducts research and takes action to improve the experiences of diverse service members, Veterans, and military families.
The CFI initiative is spearheaded by U.S. Army Veteran and First Sergeant Army, Retired, Campaign for Inclusion Director Carlandra (CT) Moss, with the guidance of the Campaign for Inclusion Committee, a group of renowned military leaders, wounded warriors, caregivers, and spouses. The initiation of the new DEPLOY cohort coincides with the announcement of a third iteration of research that explores how personal, military-specific and community attributes intersect in the lives of diverse military families. This year’s research will be conducted in four distinct military communities with the goal of pinpointing community-level solutions that bolster a sense of belonging for diverse military families: San Antonio, Texas; Hampton Roads, Virginia; Fort Gregg-Adams, Virginia; Salt Lake City, Utah.
Recent findings from Blue Star Families’ 2022 Military Family Lifestyle Survey (MFLS) reveal that experiences of racial/ethnic discrimination appear to impact military family well-being, civilian communities, and military recruitment and readiness.
“We continue to see disparities between the experiences of diverse military families and their counterparts. It affects not only their likelihood to remain in service but their willingness to recommend it to others,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families. “We are proud to welcome the new class of DEPLOY Fellows and expand our on-the-ground efforts to do our part to strengthen military families and the well-being and security of our nation.”
The new DEPLOY cohort and their areas of focus include:
- Ryan Brennan, USAA DEPLOY Food Insecurity Fellow
- Jaron Brown, DEPLOY Outdoors Fellow
- Monique Street, JP Morgan Chase DEPLOY Financial Wellness Fellow
- Angelique Cherikosis, Lockheed Martin DEPLOY National Capital Region Fellow
- Tim Jones, USAA DEPLOY Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fellow
- Sally Velez, Booz Allen DEPLOY Family Retention Fellow
“The success of the DEPLOY program is dependent upon a strong group of supporters that continue to see the value in investing in our communities,” said Moss. “With the start of the third year of this program, we show our own continued commitment to build better pathways to representation and service for our diverse military community.”
The goals of the DEPLOY Fellowship program are: advance fellows’ career opportunities through on-the-job training and leadership development, help develop an awareness of and solutions for the broader community to the specific challenges faced by the diverse military- and Veteran-connected families, nurture fellows’ desire to continue serving in the military and Veteran service organization space after their fellowship, and build an understanding of the ecosystem of military and Veteran service organizations, training the new class of racially diverse leaders for leadership positions in MSOs and VSOs, a sector that significantly lags in diverse representation.
Fellows will serve for one year in Chapter-based and national roles at BSF while they work with key defense and philanthropic sector leaders to develop subject matter expertise.
About Blue Star Families’ Campaign for Inclusion:
To more broadly support diverse military and Veteran families, Blue Star Families evolved and expanded the Racial Equity and Inclusion Initiative into the Campaign for Inclusion. As Blue Star Families has listened over the past few years, it found opportunities for communities to come together to better support these service members, Veterans, and their families. Helping families feel at home and included in the communities where they live and serve is at the heart of Blue Star Families’ work. This campaign offers an opportunity to uphold its mission while empowering stakeholders to join in on this important work.