This post is by Molly Blake, managing editor of Blue Star Families, a Points of Light partner.
If you haven't read Time magazine’s “Are U.S. Veterans Selfish?” you might want to. It's a powerful article, albeit with an unfortunate title. I'm a Marine Corps spouse – my husband served 20 years – and I can say without a shadow of doubt that vets are not selfish.
Lawmakers, congressional staffers and policy wonks may or may not plow through the more than 800 comments from readers at the end of the article to get a handle on how the military community feels about the budget cuts or commissary closings.
Often, they want research. They want smart answers to smart questions. They are interested in knowing how the lives of military families are affected by deployments, relocations, financial constraints and, yes, budget cuts.
If you are part of a military family, here’s something you can do: Voice your concerns when the 2014 Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey. (Click here to access the survey.) Put your thoughts together – think about the realities of our lives, our challenges, our interactions with our kids and their schooling and mental well-being.
The 2013 Survey was designed by Blue Star Families, a Points of Light partner, with extensive input from military family members and advocates, subject matter experts and policymakers who work with military families. The survey is intended to facilitate a more complete understanding of the experiences of military families so that communities and policymakers can better serve their unique needs, thereby making voluntary military service sustainable.
Here are just a few of the ways previous surveys have made an impact: We’ve seen increasingly higher numbers of private sector businesses and employers equipped to address the unique needs of military families, including veterans and spouses – such as portable, flexible work.
The results have also provided a better understanding how family finances and concerns about finances are impacting military families and have increased programming around military family finances. And, there's been an increase in the number of states and schools around the country that recognize the unique needs of children in military families and educators who know how to support them.
These are real results and just a few examples of tangible ways survey-takers’ thoughts have been translated into action. So, as military wife and mother of three Terri Barnes suggested last year, “grab a cup of coffee and a sandwich and take the survey!” You can find it here.