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Hicks Greets Blue Star Families, Veterans, Civilians in Welcome Week

Sept. 27, 2021 | BY Terri Moon Cronk , DOD News

The work of Blue Star Families is vital to ensuring military families and veterans are embraced by their local communities and neighborhoods, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks said at the opener of Blue Star Families Welcome Week, Sept. 25 - Oct. 3.

Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services, including the National Guard and Reserves, dedicated to supporting, connecting and empowering military families.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks stands outside with hand over heart.
Parade Moment
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks attends a Marines Corps evening parade as the guest of honor at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., July 30, 2021.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase, DOD
VIRIN: 210730-D-BM568-1176Y

Every year, about 600,000 military families relocate, whether through a move — a permanent change of station — or transitioning out of the military. During Blue Star Welcome Week, the organization celebrates an opportunity for the community to welcome military families into a new duty station, or reentry into civilian life. 

The deputy secretary said she is grateful to Blue Star Families for organizing this important event, because whether one is from a military family or a civilian family, being a part of a community is crucial to everyone's well-being.

Hicks also comes from a military family in which her father served more than 30 years in the Navy. Growing up, she said she lived all across the United States from Connecticut to Hawaii. 

The deputy defense secretary sits at a table and speaks toward a screen.
Virtual Remarks
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks speaks to the Senate Youth Group virtually from the Pentagon, March 17, 2021.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders, DOD
VIRIN: 210317-D-XI929-1005Y

"I know first-hand that being in a military family can be extremely rewarding," she said in videotaped remarks to Blue Star families, veterans and civilians. "You're part of something larger than yourself. You travel and learn different local and regional cultures, cuisines and dialects. You selflessly give to our nation and contribute to our national security."

But, she said, she also knows how difficult military family life can be at times. "I know how tough it is to PCS every few years," Hicks said. "Just as you feel you're getting settled, it's time to pack up again. Schools, jobs, neighborhoods and relationships are dislocated. That's why our military families and veterans benefit so much from supportive and understanding civilian neighbors."

The deputy secretary said she was thankful for the civilian partners and friends who joined the Welcome Week and for their support. "It enables our military families to thrive," she said. "The warm welcome that you offer — not just to our service members, but to our veterans, care givers, survivors and their families — creates that real foundational community connection that says you're home." 

The deputy defense secretary departs Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.
Florida Flightline
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks stands for a photo before departing Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., April 8, 2021.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase, DOD
VIRIN: 210408-F-BM568-1505Y

And that is why Blue Star Welcome Week is so important, Hicks said. Each year, hundreds of thousands of military members and their families will PCS throughout the U.S. and become the newest members of communities all across the country, she said, adding that by raising awareness now, all can work to support not only the military families living in communities, but priming neighborhoods to ensure we are ready to welcome our military families when they arrive. 

"The benefits of this engagement go both ways," she said. "When a military family or veteran moves into your community, you are rewarded with new neighbors who are resilient, hard-working and service-minded. So, thank you to Blue Star Families for helping us all come together to find solutions that strengthen all of us."