Blue Star Families Launches $1 Million National Racial Equity Initiative in Largest Effort of Its Kind to Support Underrepresented Military Members, Veterans, and Families of Color
WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2020
Led by Racial Equity Committee of Military Leaders, Advocates, and Experts, Initiative will Drive Research, Training, Programs, and Policy Recommendations to Improve Wellbeing of Black and Hispanic Military Families
WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Blue Star Families, a national non-profit dedicated to supporting military families and strengthening communities, announced today the launch of the Racial Equity Initiative aimed at fighting racial inequality among military and veteran families. The $1 million effort – the first and largest of its kind – kicked off with a virtual event, "Blue Star Families on Racial Equity: Frontlines and Homefront," and will focus on five impact areas: Research & Advocacy, Training, Leadership, Collaboration, and Community Impact.
"The Racial Equity Initiative is Blue Star Families' answer to the national call for action to face and address the inequities people of color experience in their life of service," said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families. "We are proud to partner with leading individuals and organizations to harness new resources, build new programs, and bring new collaborators to change the unacceptable reality that far too many families face. Blue Star Families has long believed that all military families deserve to feel welcome in their communities, to feel appreciated, and to feel a sense of belonging. We believe that when they feel this way, it not only makes military families stronger — it also strengthens our military readiness."
Speaking at the launch event were members of the Racial Equity Committee (REC), an extraordinary group of high-ranking military leaders from all branches, wounded warriors, caregivers, and military spouses that will spearhead the efforts and provide their expertise. The REC is co-chaired by Lieutenant General Gwen Bingham, U.S. Army (Ret.); Staff Sergeant Charles Eggleston, U.S. Army (Ret.); and Ingrid Herrera-Yee, Ph.D., and a full list of committee members is available here.
"With frequent moves and many other compounding impacts of serving in uniform, military families often encounter challenges taking root in a community; these challenges are often much greater for families of color, who may feel even more isolated or disconnected," said Lieutenant General (ret.) Gwen Bingham, co-chair of the Racial Equity Committee and former Assistant U.S. Chief of Staff for Installation Management. "All military families deserve to feel that they belong, that they are appreciated, and that they are welcome. Today's conversation starts by acknowledging that many military families of color do not feel that way. Today is about declaring that we can do better, and that we are committed to creating positive change."
"The conversations I've had with my kids about locations we were going to around the country and are they going to be accepted – these are conversations that happened but were kept under the radar," said General (ret.) Larry Spencer, Racial Equity Committee member and Former Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. "With everything going on in our society, particularly after George Floyd's killing where the country erupted in protest, there were cameras and microphones in front of everyone getting their view, except for military families. I applaud Blue Star Families for going out and reaching out to military families to see their reactions and how they feel about what is going on around them."
The initiative comes as this year's national conversation on race has renewed focus on the need to ensure a more equitable future, and the military community has been no exception. Preliminary research by Blue Star Families has revealed that current systems and attitudes are undermining the experiences and outcomes of service members and military families of color. Both before and since the start of the pandemic, Black and Hispanic military families have experienced greater hardships relative to their white counterparts. The initiative aims to identify the root causes behind – and work to address – these inequities among the service community.
The Racial Equity Initiative will run throughout 2021, and funders include key defense and philanthropic sector leaders such as USAA, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, CSX, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lockheed Martin,the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Starbucks, and OptumServe. These partners are not only providing the needed financial sponsorship to make the work possible, but additional resources and leadership training in direct operational support of the initiative to ensure all military families have the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life, to thrive, and to belong.
About Blue Star Families
Blue Star Families builds communities that support military families by connecting research and data to programs and solutions, including career development tools, local community events for families, and caregiver support. Since its inception in 2009, Blue Star Families has engaged tens of thousands of volunteers and serves more than 1.5 million military family members nationwide. With Blue Star Families, military families can find answers to their challenges anywhere they are. For more information, visit bluestarfam.org or follow us on Facebook (@BlueStarFamilies) or Twitter (@BlueStarFamily).
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SOURCE Blue Star Families