KILLEEN, Texas — This week is the first-ever Blue Star Families Welcome Week, a nationwide campaign that sheds light on the struggles military families endure as they move around the country.
"One of the things we've seen over time is isolation is a root cause of the problems and challenges that our military families have over time," said Kathy Roth-Douquet, Blue Star Families CEO and Co-Founder.
Roth-Douquet said financial security and mental health challenges are just a couple of things that a military family may struggle with and many of it is brought on through isolation.
Justin Schmitt, Assistant VP of Corporate Responsibility at USAA, grew up in a military family and said military families endure a lot, isolation should not be one of them.
"In the best of times, military families endure the stress and strains associated with deployments and associated with a Mom or Dad being sent into harms way," he said. "The frequency of moves is also a complexity for military families that right when you feel settled in, you get uprooted again and you have to relearn a new community and a new school."
According to the Blue Star Families, the average military family moves three times as often as civilians, in many instances relocating every two to three years. Many of them don't feel a part of their new communities.
"We asked military families, 'How many people do you know in your local community who you can turn to for a favor' and almost 30-percent of families say 'zero,' Roth-Douquet said. "You know, people solve problems through other people and we just can't let these young families be in a position where they have nobody."
Creating an ongoing dialogue and awareness of the struggles is paramount, Roth-Douquet and Schmitt said, to helping military families find a place in the communities they move to.
Statistically, 79% of military families feel the general public is unaware of the daily challenges they face and the first-ever Welcome Week is hoping to address that by bringing civilian neighbors, local businesses and military families together.
Schmitt, who knows what it's like to move a lot when he was a military child, believes the best way to show your appreciation to a military service member is to watch out for those they love while they deploy.
"Many military service members, in my experience, will tell you that one of the best ways you can thank them for their service is to take care of their spouses and children," he said. "When the military family unit is thriving it creates conditions for the service member to do their job better and have more peace of mind knowing that the family is doing well."