How I Spent My Summer Vacation

My past few summers have been filled with oppressive heat (but it’s a “dry heat”), terrible reality TV, and a constant flow of participants for the various eyewitness research studies I have conducted. And by that I mean I am a psychology graduate student in an isolated, desert community of west Texas. While I love the research I have been doing, I wanted to take a ‘vacation’ and learn about a topic in which I have always been interested but have not yet had the chance to explore – military families. I was intrigued by the internship with Military Families at America’s Promise Alliance because it emphasized social science research and policy. I jumped at the opportunity to be an Intern Associate, immediately packed my frizz-control hair gel, and made my way to the (humidity) capital of our nation: Washington, DC.

My initial interest in the military community comes from being the spouse of a Coast Guardsman. Despite living with a member of the military, I was still mostly unfamiliar with the community as a whole. I have not experienced some of the more common issues that spouses and military families do: constant moves, deployment, and the anxiety and fear that come with both. I was aware, however, that a lot of the research and advocacy focus is on the singular military member rather than the family unit. I was interested in the overall affects of military life on members, spouses, and children. This internship allowed me to examine the holistic effects of military life and how research can positively influence policy decisions regarding military families.

During my first week I had the opportunity to attend the premiere of Profiles in Service: It Takes a Nation, a documentary highlighting just some of the struggles military families experience. While I was initially excited for the free food, I left the event with a new understanding of the issues military members and their families go through and a fervor to do as much as I could to advocate for and help this unique community. As the weeks passed, I was able to use data from the Census Bureau to estimate military demographics across states, estimate the risk of becoming a low-income military family, and meet a wide variety of members from top advocacy organizations.

While my dream of meeting Tom Hanks, supporter of Got Your 6, during one of the many events I attended has not yet come true, I was still able to discover a passion for advocating on behalf of military families. In the future, I hope to be able to contribute to policies that benefit this community by conducting research and promoting best practices. I am thankful that America’s Promise Alliance has given me the chance to play just a small role in supporting the 1% of Americans who serve and their families.