The children of a USS Ronald Reagan sailor watch as the aircraft carrier departs Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, May 22, 2019.

The children of a USS Ronald Reagan sailor watch as the aircraft carrier departs Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, May 22, 2019. (Stars and Stripes)

Military families still have several days to take part in the largest annual survey of military life, which concludes Wednesday.

Blue Star Families, a national nonprofit organization, surveys military communities, including National Guard members and reservists, about issues affecting them, from financial hardship to child care.

Results of the Military Family Lifestyle Survey are routinely read by military leaders and politicians in positions to make changes, Blue Star’s senior director of applied research, Jessica Strong, told Stars and Stripes in an email June 17.

“This survey is an opportunity for the nation’s military and Veteran families to voice the experiences within their communities and daily lives,” she said. “By collecting and analyzing results, we gain essential insights into the solutions that can address their concerns.”

Last year, approximately 48% of respondents cited spouse employment as the main issue affecting military families, Strong said. About 26% of enlisted families faced food insecurity, according to the survey, while only 4% of officer family respondents were experiencing that issue.

“This year, in the current context of significant recruitment challenges, we’re exploring the impact of these continued lifestyle challenges on families’ wellbeing, willingness to remain in military service and to recommend military service to young family members, who are very often the future of our all-volunteer force,” Strong said.

Blue Star Families, established by military spouses in 2009, has poured approximately $160 million worth of benefits into veterans and military families since that time, according to the organization. This year’s study, the 14th by the nonprofit, began on May 24 and ends Wednesday.

The survey, according to Blue Star, is the largest and most comprehensive active-duty focused survey by an organization outside the military; more than 9,000 veterans take part worldwide and it reaches more than 1.5 million family members yearly.

Blue Star partners with Syracuse University’s D'Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families to get the survey out.

“We collect your voices and amplify them into collective action, shared with key decision-makers in government, in the military and in communities,” Strong said.

Those interested in the survey can access it at

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Juan King is a reporter, photographer and web editor at Yokota Air Base, Japan. He joined the U.S. Navy in 2004 and has been assigned to Stars and Stripes since 2021. His previous assignments have taken him to Afghanistan, Bahrain, Guam and Japan.

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