Blue Star Families’ Social Impact Research 2021: Understanding The Diverse Experiences of Military & Veteran Families of Color

In collaboration with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families

 

This comprehensive report highlights 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.

Key Highlights

  • 79% of active-duty service member respondents of color agree their military experience has had a positive influence on their professional growth.
  • 59% of active-duty service member respondents of color report having allies in the workplace.
  • Six in 10 Black and Hispanic/Latinx active-duty service member and Veteran respondents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 26% of Black and 19% of Hispanic civilian counterparts.
  • 51% of active-duty family respondents of color characterize their family’s financial stability as better than their civilian friends and family of the same racial/ethnic background.

Despite these positive experiences, the study also revealed some challenges.

Among active-duty service member respondents of color

41% report experiencing racially- or ethnically-based discrimination or harassment by their peers at some point in their career.
41%
39% report their race/ethnicity significantly or slightly hurt their ability to get ahead at work.
39%
57% report they have heard their military-connected peers make racist comments or jokes about others.
57%

*most commonly among Black respondents (65%), followed by Hispanic/Latinx (55%) and Asian (51%) respondents.

Among veteran respondents of color

51% report experiencing racially- or ethnically-based discrimination or harassment by their peers at some point in their career.
51%
44% indicate they believe their racial/ethnic identity has hurt their ability to get ahead at work.
44%
65% report experiencing unfair punitive counseling or investigation in the workplace.
65%

Among family and military spouse respondents of color

30% report a decision not to accept PCS orders or job assignments, knowing that it may negatively impact their career opportunities.
30%
64% among active-duty families agree that racial equity research and initiatives are necessary to improve life for military-connected families of color.
64%
46% of active-duty families and 54% of Veteran families who needed food and nutrition services since January 2020 report they did not receive them.
46%

Black and Hispanic female military spouses earn roughly 54% and 66% less than the total population, respectively, according to new analysis of American Community Survey data.

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