Almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the military community is carrying on business as close to usual as possible. But the impacts of the virus cannot be ignored.
In 2019, 9% of active-duty and veteran families experienced high rates of food insecurity. One military organization wants to know how COVID-19 has affected that statistic, and how else the virus has changed military life.
Each year, the Military Family Advisory Network, or MFAN, conducts a survey for the military community, alternating between a family support programming survey and topical research.
This year, it's on COVID-19's effects on military families. The intent is to gauge how they are doing during the pandemic, with a focus on their ability to provide for basic needs such as food.
The survey will be open for approximately another six weeks. MFAN President and Executive Director Shannon Razsadin said the results, which she expects to have within a few months, will help MFAN find specific pain points based on geographic area, sponsor's rank and family dynamics. The programs MFAN works with on a regular basis will also be able to use the results to tailor their military family support.
The short, mobile-optimized survey takes about three minutes to complete and is confidential. It's open to anyone connected to the military community, including active-duty troops, National Guard, Reserve and veterans -- and their family members.
"We really want to hear from our Reserve and National Guard family members," Razsadin said, adding that that population may be at higher risk of both spouses losing their jobs.
MFAN prides itself on making real change with the feedback it gets from the annual surveys and from family members directly, Razsadin said. The 2020 survey showed that one in six respondents in Texas experienced food insecurity, especially those living near Fort Hood, Texas. So MFAN partnered with the Food Care Center, grocery store HEB and Tyson Foods to host a food distribution event in December 2020.
"We had Santa and a band at our drive-through event because we know there is a stigma surrounding food insecurity, and we wanted the kids to have fun and the family to get the support they needed," Razsadin said. "We were able to connect people to the resources in an ongoing way, so they could return if needed."
To make sure your voice is heard, take a few minutes to complete the survey here. MFAN also asks that you share the survey to increase the number of respondents and help it collect as much data as possible.
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