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This report, by Blue Star Families and the Caster Center and sponsored by USAA, examines the unique strengths and challenges of military families, best practices for supporting military families, why your company should support these families, and the steps to begin or strengthen your company's plan to support military families.
Despite the drawdown of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the United States will continue to rely on an all-volunteermilitary for global stability and security for the foreseeable future. The Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey takes a proactive look at the current needs and priorities of military families and service members and what can be done to support them. The goal of the survey is to provide concrete data and information about prominent aspects of the military lifestyle so that decisionmakers can make informed choices on their behalf. After all, the first step in recognizing the unique and substantial contributions military families make to this nation's security and collective strength, is to understand their perspective and experiences while serving.Each year, Blue Star Families collects data and disseminates the results so that stakeholders can address military families with a timely and relevant perspective. In doing so, decision-makers may be able to target efforts for better reception, applicability, and successful outreach to military families in communities across the nation and around the world. This report details the results and analysis of the fourth annual Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey.The survey, which was conducted online in November 2012 with more than 5,100 military family respondents, was designed to reveal key trends in today's military families by examining, among other things, feelings of stress, financialreadiness, spouse employment, effects of deployment, levels of communication, behavioral and mental health, wellbeing, and civic engagement. !e results provide clear insight into the unique lifestyles of modern-day military families after more than a decade of continuous war.
The second White Oak Summit (White Oak II) was held February 24-26, 2012. Conveners included Blue Star Families, The Chamber of Commerce, Points of Light Institute, Armed Forces Services Corporation, with advisors from the White House and Department of Defense. The objective of this second Summit was to identify strategies and recommendations (long and short term) to address the remaining gaps in support for military families and highlight where the private sector can have the greatest impact. This Summit provided opportunities to review current research, policy initiatives, and responses to the challenges facing military families. Since White Oak I, a number of well-coordinated efforts and initiatives have been launched to support military families. Although many of these initiatives provide excellent resources, there are still areas where support needs to be initiated or re-directedAs Part of White Oak II, participants acknowledged the unique role of military service and the joint obligation of both government agency and the larger society's obligation to assist with the many challenges that arise from that service. Cooperation across the public and private sectors, however, has been difficult and, often, services and advocacy for military members, their families, and transitioning veterans lies in disparate places -- from various federal and state government agencies to the military services themselves, to an array of hundreds (if not thousands) of non-profit and private sector organizations. Both government and nongovernmental representatives cited miscommunication, confusing messaging, and on-going barriers to accessing military community populations as the main hurdles to collaboration across sectors. White Oak II aimed to identify concrete actions to address these problems. The overall recommendations and next steps include developing a comprehensive list of services available to military families in education, employment and wellness, and forming an umbrella group or association for NGOs as a vetting body (a key problem inhibiting public-private collaboration) that would track lessons learned and efficient practices, coordinate messaging, and incubate new organizations.