While the national unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent, military spouses are at 30 percent. The Military Family Relief Initiative aims to help, offering $30 million in support. It's a historical donation and more than two-dozen organizations will benefit.
When the pandemic hit, it was the National Guard handing out food, helping at blood centers, and helping states during periods of civil unrest.
You'll see the guard, but what you don't see are the people who support those National Guard members.
“We had the largest deployment of National Guard ever in our history,” says Kathy Roth-Douquet, a military spouse and the founder and CEO of Blue Star Families.
On top of that deployment, other military service members are facing stop order movements because of the pandemic.
“All the folks who were deployed and due to come home, they couldn’t come home and people had deployment extended for three months or more,” Roth-Douquet said. “So that family whose spouse had been home with their kids suddenly found their kid out of daycare, out of childcare and that spouse that was supposed to help couldn’t come home.”
With so many spouses stuck, Roth-Douquet launched Blue Star Families back in 2009 because she, like many military families, needed help.
“We found ourselves living a lifestyle with our families that required a very heavy for lift for us,” Roth-Douquet said. “It’s an honor to serve your country, but you have a responsibility for your family to thrive. Many of us felt that we couldn’t do both.”
Blue Star Families offers a solution, a way for society to help, through community by connecting families and military spouses with people who can help your every need.
"Military families lives are difficult without a pandemic, we do a big mission around the world and then you add the pandemic to it, the stress on the children, the family separation that’s been compounded, the unemployment has been compounded, it’s a tough time for military families. This relief makes such a difference,” Roth-Douquet said.
Blue Star Families teamed up with USAA to survey military families every week for 10 weeks. They figured out where the problems were, and are. USAA then committed $30 million to the Military Family Relief initiative, which will help two-dozen military and general aid non-profits, including Blue Star Families. It’s the largest one-time philanthropic contribution in USAA"s nearly 100-year history.
“This $30 million will help augment the reduction in fundraising and the increased need that’s happening with military families,” said Harriet Dominique, who manages philanthropic strategies and contributions for USAA.
“We know that military families as they’re serving our nation taking care of us and our freedoms have challenge and stressors. Those challenges have been increased by financial impacts and career and employment impacts of COVID-19,” Dominique said.
For Dominique, this is personal. Her dad and brother served and her nephew is a reservist. Some of the organizations that will benefit are the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, The Institute for Veterans and Military Families, and "Hiring Our Heroes.”
“When we talk about military spouses who have lost their job because of COVID and we know their service member and they need financial stability and the investment in hiring our heroes for financial security, we know we’re making a difference,” Dominique said.