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We’re stronger together: A collaboration to support military families during the COVID-19 pandemic

APA Citation:

Urbieta, D. A., Akin, J. L., Hamilton, W. M., Brock, W. W., & Yablonsky, A. M. (2021). We’re stronger together: A collaboration to support military families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Military Medicine, 186(S2), 23–34. https://doi.org/10.1093/milmed/usab213

Abstract Created by REACH:

A survey was conducted during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., April–May 2020) to evaluate how the pandemic had impacted military families. 2,762 military spouses and Service members representing a variety of military family forms (i.e., active duty, National Guard/Reserve [NG/R], dual military, single-parent Service member) responded to questions regarding changes in financial security, receipt of emotional support, acting out among children, ability to provide adult supervision, inability to return from deployment, and utilization of adult mental health services. Although the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted military families, especially children, they also displayed adaptability (e.g., seeking support).


Mental health
Physical health

Branch of Service:

Air Force
Marine Corps
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Military families
Active duty service member
Child of a service member or veteran
Guard/Reserve member
Spouse of service member or veteran


Childhood (birth - 12 yrs)
Preschool age (2 -5 yrs)
School age (6 - 12 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Quantitative Study


Urbieta, Dehussa A., Akin, Jennifer L., Hamilton, Wendy M., Brock, Whitney W., Yablonsky, Abigail Marter


The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for every segment of the U.S. population, including military personnel and their families. The TriService Nursing Research Program’s Military Family Research Interest Group (FIG) formed a collaboration with Blue Star Families, a civilian non-profit organization, to identify potential issues faced by military families during the pandemic.The Pain Points Poll was introduced online by Blue Star Families, and findings were aggregated weekly between March 18 and May 26, 2020. Volunteer poll respondents were mainly recruited through social media outreach. FIG-informed questions were incorporated in week 4 of polling and focused on workplace environment, financial health, social support, physical and mental health, child behavior, utilization of family care plans, and general well-being. Data were collected to gain real-time insights into the major challenges posed by the pandemic. Findings from FIG-informed questions were collaboratively reviewed and analyzed by FIG and BSF teams. Data-driven recommendations were made to stakeholders to improve processes and reprioritize investments for services that aim to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on military families.A total of 2,895 military family units (i.e., service members and spouses) responded to the poll, a majority of which (88%) represented active duty family units. Although the majority of families (range: 59%-69%) noted no impact to their finances, approximately one in five families endorsed dipping into their savings during the pandemic. A majority of respondents (69.5%) reported taking active measures to support their mental health, endorsing various strategies. Among parents of special needs children, 45% of active duty families and 60% of single-parent service members reported the inability to maintain continued services for their children. A majority of parents with school-aged children (65%) reported child behavioral changes due to their child’s inability to socialize with peers. Among military service members, 41% were concerned about obtaining fair performance evaluations during the crisis.The COVID-19 pandemic produced significant challenges for military families. Collaboration between military and civilian partners can inform policies and appropriate strategies to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 for military families. The findings presented here provide insight into areas where military families can be supported for optimal outcomes during unprecedented times.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Oxford Academic

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Directorate for Professional Education, Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command San Diego, DAU


social support, military families, COVID-19, pandemic, mental health, military, families

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

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