MOAA joined dozens of organizations to build a recent report on the specific challenges faced by the uniformed services and veteran communities during the COVID-19 pandemic – a document that pulled from dozens of town hall meetings, working groups, surveys, and analysis to offer more than 40 “actions for consideration” to address these concerns.
The 57-page white paper was released in October by the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative, a partnership between the Association of Defense Communities and Blue Star Families. Organizations including MOAA lent support to the effort, which included statements from military families offering a personal glimpse into these communitywide problems.
- “We cannot afford internet at home so after work I drive the kids to the school parking lot, where we sit in the car while they log onto the school Wi-Fi and work on school assignments,” an Air Force servicemember said.
- “Finances are stretched thin,” an Air Force spouse said. “The uncertainty of managing two separate budgets, for stuff in two different countries is impossible with incomes and regulations shifting so quickly.”
- “We PCS’d during the virus, so my children have not had any chance to meet new kids,” another spouse said. “The teachers have done their best to try and include my children, but it is hard to do over a computer.”
Many of the key issues facing the military and veteran community made worse by the pandemic are typical pain points: Child care needs, spouse employment concerns, and a lack of caregiver support, among others. More COVID-specific areas of concern included dealing with barriers to virtual schooling, providing ways to conduct classified work remotely, and coordinating military-civilian pandemic response programs.
“In many cases, the pandemic has made known problems worse,” said Eryn Wagnon, MOAA’s director of government relations for military family policy and spouse programs. “It’s stressing resources that were already pulled thin. This report helps shine a light on those areas, and it makes clear that these members of our military family will need our support long after lockdowns and other, more immediate impacts of the pandemic begin to fade.”
[DONATE TODAY: MOAA's COVID-19 Relief Fund]
Wagnon served on a working group that addressed K-12 education concerns – one of five working groups represented in the white paper. Among its recommended actions:
- More comprehensive assistance for military families with young children – to navigate educational challenges, to provide for those with special needs, and to address COVID-specific problems ranging from child care availability to home-schooling support.
- Installation- and community-based support to tackle technology and logistical hurdles, from opening up locations with free wireless Internet to ensuring continued delivery of free or reduced-priced meals to eligible military children.
- An array of finance-related suggestions, including improved training programs, greater awareness of service-specific relief agencies, and more education efforts directed at junior enlisted families.
“MOAA has worked toward most if not all of these goals in its continuing support of military families,” Wagnon said. “This report and others like it just show how widespread the need is, and why that work remains so critical.”
Learn more about the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative at this link.