From NBC’s Domenico Montanaro
Military families feel disconnected from the larger community, according to a poll commissioned by a military family advocacy group.
According to the results of the poll, 94 percent feel that way. Blue Star Families released the results of the 3,000-person survey at a roundtable on Capitol Hill led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The roundtable — meant as one way to bridge the gap — included Blue Star Families, the National Military Families Association, Tina Tchen of the White House Council on Women and Girls, as well as several members of Congress.
Pam Eggleton, of Blue Star, who announced the results, said she felt “alone” when her husband went through two tours in Iraq, then returned after being injured and spending three years at Walter Reed Army Hospital recovering.
Joyce Wessel Raezar, of National Military Families, said the results of the survey track with what she’s hearing from members of her organization as well. She cited the other spouses gathered for the roundtable, including Mary Scott, whose six children are all enlisted.
“I’m disheartened to hear the results of the survey,” because that means leaders aren’t doing what needs to be done to make families feel more connected, said Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), co-chairwoman of the Military Families Task Force. “In some cases we’re doing it right; in others, we weren’t doing it right at all.”
The other co-chairwoman of the task force — Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), who represents San Diego — though said she’s “not surprised” by the results.
“We need to do better,” Davis said. “Much better.”
Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, touted increased funding for military families before telling the spouses gathered for the roundtable, “I’m proud of you.”
Military families have become a focus for First Lady Michelle Obama. The White House established the Council on Women and Girls, and Tchen was there to reassure that the administration would do all it could to bridge the gap.
“This crosses the aisle and is a priority of everyone here” and the White House, Tchen said.
Eggleton, who praised Michelle Obama’s efforts, said gatherings like this one make her feel that the leadership “does care.” She also cited that the Bidens are Blue Star Families members. Beau Biden is currently deployed in Iraq.
Pelosi then dismissed the cameras and members of the press so the group could have a “frank convseration.”