Those who have never had a family member or close friend serve in the military often take for granted the hardships military families face everyday. Now, amidst the one of the largest national security threats in U.S. history, Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families, shares her mission to remind Americans of the sacrifices taken by those involved in the military, both home and abroad, on Full Court Press Now with Greta Van Susteren.
Kathy Roth-Douquet founded the Blue Star Families organization in 2009, which was named in commemoration of the WWII tradition of hanging ‘Blue Star Flags’ in homes that had a family member deployed in the war. The organization uses the tradition to call attention to the fact that, even in times of relative peace, military families often face struggles that other families do not. Currently there are roughly 300,000 people deployed to 177 countries around the world, and the families back home often have to help shoulder that burden. “The average military kid goes to 6 to 9 schools in their K-12 education,” said Kathy in an interview with Greta Van Susteren. “My daughter Sophie, when she was in 10th grade she was entering her 10th school.”
The struggles of military families, like much of the country, have only gotten worse since the pandemic began. Many of these families were in temporary living or between housing when ‘stop movement’ orders were put into place. As a result, according to Kathy Roth-Douquet, “up to 20% of folks with ‘stop movement’ orders are expected to pay two leases or two mortgages within the next 60 days.” Recently, a letter signed by 21 members of congress demanded relief for these military personnel.
Kathy noted that some in the military whose spouses may also be out of work due to coronavirus are also beginning to worry about food insecurity. “Right now, based on your housing allowance, a lot of young military families aren’t eligible for SNAP even though that housing money is not available for them to buy food,” explains Kathy. “8% of respondents in our poll say that they’re concerned about being able to feed their families next week.” Blue Star Families and several other organizations continue to ask congress for increased “eligibility for military families” for food insecurity programs like SNAP or WIC. Unfortunately, new legislation will likely have to wait for the next stimulus bill. Kathy asks anybody willing to talk to congress about this issue to write to either the Senate and House Committees on Armed Services or the Senate Health, Education, Labour and Pensions Committee.
On the brightside; despite some 65,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among military personnel in the U.S., there have only been two recorded deaths since the outbreak started. There has been some concern on whether testing capacity is sufficient to safely restart training camps, however the military appears to be in good hands in regards to health safety. “Those [two deaths] are tragic,” says Kathy, “but military medicine is excellent, so we haven’t seen the spikes in death, but this remains an active concern.”Blue Star Families is hosting two Town Halls a week, free and open to the public, for people who want to learn more about how COVID-19 is affecting military families. You can register for the next one here. Additional resources can be found on the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative website found here.