Announced in December 2020, Blue Star Families’ REI Initiative is a multi-dimensional, cross-sector, collective-action effort to support and improve the service experiences of military families of color.
The initiative gathers new resources and focuses the energy of Blue Star Families and a broad assembly of corporate, foundation, nonprofit, and government partners to ensure our country meets its obligation to deliver positive, fulfilling experiences to all families who serve.
The goal of the initiative is to make sure each member of every military family finds a sense of belonging in the communities in which they live, thus making our military families stronger and improving military readiness.
“When you think about it, it is a readiness issue for our service members. I couldn’t have been the ready soldier I was for 38 years unless I knew my family was taken care of. “
– Lieutenant General Gwen Bingham,
U.S. Army (Ret.)
A NATIONAL CALL TO ACTION
Blue Star Families has long believed that all military families deserve to feel welcome in their communities, to feel appreciated, and to feel a sense of belonging. History has shown that when this is the case, not only are our military families stronger, but so is the readiness of our military.
George Floyd’s murder in the spring of 2020 sparked the national focus on race in our country. At this time, many Americans were staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic and had more opportunities to follow, absorb, and have conversations about this horrific tragedy. The movement that subsequently emerged renewed and amplified a national call to action. Individuals, communities, and organizations are taking important steps to ensure they are delivering on a vision that everyone in this country, inclusive of all races and ethnicities, has the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives, to thrive, and to belong.
Blue Star Families supports this national call to action and is taking steps through our programming, especially the REI, to uphold our vision for all military families to feel a sense of belonging—especially military families of color.
“If you don’t feel like you belong, whether it’s because, sadly, the color of your skin, or your lack of being able to speak the language, or not really feeling like part of the majority, it could be truly isolating and difficult.“
— Ingrid Herrera-Yee,
Ph.D., REIC Co-Chair
ANSWERING THIS CALL
“That’s why this walk is so important. It will make us feel included. It will make us feel valued.“
— Patricia Ochan,
At Blue Star Families, we are sharpening our focus and understanding through lived experiences validated with results from the annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey. Military service and support options are different for military families of color, compared to those of white families. In many ways, the military community—through its shared commitment to service—fosters positive bonds across race and ethnicity.
We know, however, that the shared bond of service is not enough to prevent real differences and challenges from persisting across families. Our preliminary work shows that systems and attitudes undermine the experiences and outcomes of service members and military families of color.
We believe we can be part of positive change. Therefore, we are proactively addressing the inequities in the service experiences of military families of color and are working to increase their sense of belonging in communities worldwide. We are harnessing new resources, building new programs, and bringing new collaborators to a sustained effort to change this unacceptable reality that far too many military families of color face.