New Study Finds Military Service Members, Veterans, and Families of Color Perceive Discrimination During Service, Face Challenges in Work and Relocation Opportunities, Want Stronger Racial Equity Programs

blue star families social impact research 2021 report coverBlue Star Families (BSF), the nation’s largest non-profit dedicated to supporting military families and strengthening communities across the United States, today released the results of a new, comprehensive study highlighting the unique experiences, needs, and viewpoints of military service members, Veterans, and families of color.

The study aims to build understanding and awareness around the progress and barriers facing military families of color, address gaps in knowledge, and provide insights that will help drive solutions to the issues military and Veteran families of color face. The report highlights findings from a 14-month study which included focus groups; new analysis of external military and Veteran-related data; and a nationwide survey of over 2,700 respondents tailored to address the unique experiences of military and Veteran families of color.

Spanning topics including the current military cultural environment, service career progression, relocation, transitioning veterans, education, finance, health, and more, the survey highlights challenges, as well as positive findings.

“In their common goal of creating a safer world for all Americans, military families of color sacrifice just as much as their white counterparts, yet they continue to face challenges based solely on their race or ethnicity,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families. “These hardships impact individual and family wellbeing, livelihoods, and safety – as well as the strength of our military overall. While military leaders have made progress in creating a more equitable service experience, the results of our new study send a clear message: there is more work to be done. These insights are a step in the right direction to ensure that everyone in the military community is seen, heard, and treated equally – no matter the color of their skin.”

“I’ve been honored to team with fellow Racial Equity and Inclusion Committee members to help craft this program, guide and review the research, and meet with leaders in the Department of Defense to share our findings and work collaboratively to craft a path forward,” said Lieutenant General Gwen Bingham, U.S. Army (Ret.), and Co-Chair of the Racial Equity and Inclusion Committee. “I definitely feel a sense of gratitude and humility and a very strong sense of desire to pay it forward to the next generation. This work is not just about being a passive participant, but making a real difference. It is important to me – and crucial for our military community.”

“The IVMF has long valued the opportunity to work alongside Blue Star Families on the annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey – and now we are even more proud to join them in this latest effort taking a deeper look at the experiences and needs of military and veteran families of color,” said Maureen E. Casey, Chief Operating Officer of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University. “The information and insights gleaned from this research will enable all of us to do more better together for those we serve and support. “

Survey respondents also indicated the actions they hope to see among their allies in the military, including calling out inappropriate comments of behavior, getting involved with diversity and inclusion efforts, and advocating for a more equitable service experience.

The survey, conducted in partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, was held between June 25 and July 29, 2021 and recruited military and Veteran-connected respondents of color (to include white, non-Hispanic members of multi-racial families). 2,731 valid respondents were retained for analysis.

View the report results