The military spouse community was abuzz last week. Why, you ask? Because military families were featured on one of the largest public platforms in this day and age: Oprah.
I haven't watched Oprah in years, and unfortunately I didn't learn about this particular show until hours after it aired when I checked my messages and heard my mother-in-law telling me to turn on my tv. But fortunately, millions of other Americans DID catch the show.
"The Bravest Families in America." That's what the show was called. First Lady Michelle Obama and journalists Tom Brokaw and Bob Woodward joined Oprah in honoring military families and discussing the challenges we face. And although I didn't see the show in its entirety, seeing the preview and the brief heart-wrenching clips online left no doubt in my mind that the struggles we endure as military families are finally being noticed.
In a survey released by Blue Star Families, 92 percent of military family respondents indicated that they felt the general public doesn't truly understand or appreciate the sacrifices made by service members and their families. Yes I did fill out that survey. Yes I am part of that 92%. I don't think the general public has any idea what military families go through. And over the years I've learned not to bother talking to my civilian friends about military life because they just don't get it.
But maybe all of that is changing. Oprah's show aired just days after President Obama released his report, Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment, detailing his approach to supporting military families. The report outlines 4 specific priorities:
1. Enhance the well-being and psychological health of the military family.
2. Ensure excellence in military children’s education and their development.
3. Develop career and educational opportunities for military spouses.
4. Increase child care availability and quality for the Armed Forces.
When I first read this, I thought, wow, someone did their research because these are definitely issues I'd love to see addressed. But my second thought was, hmmm, how are these priorities going to be accomplished? How exactly does the President expect to "enhance the well-being and psychological health of the military family?" And how will he "ensure excellence in military children's education and their development?" Quite frankly, I have no idea. But for now, I'm content knowing that we're even a blip on his radar.
Between the President of the United States and Oprah (because, really, isn't Oprah just as influential as the POTUS?), I think word might start spreading that military families really are "the bravest families in America" and we need all the support we can get. In fact, I think Americans are already starting to take notice. After Oprah and Michelle Obama mentioned Blue Star Families on the show, BSF became inundated with new volunteers. I'd say that's a good start.
If you saw it, what did you think about that Oprah show? If you're a mil spouse, what do you think about the president's report concerning military families?