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Looking ahead: What to expect from MFAN in 2020

To our friends, followers, partners, and fellow military families:

When we founded Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) nearly seven years ago, we knew we wanted to connect leaders across the public and private sectors with the real lived experiences of military families. We knew there was a sea of goodwill and that people truly wanted to support military families, but they needed to be fully informed to provide the best services and solutions.

Our vision was creating a vehicle that would become a source of trusted information — an organization military families would believe in enough to share their experiences and one that lawmakers, decision-makers, and industry leaders would rely on as a source of concrete, actionable information. Today, we are on the path to realizing that vision.  

When we released our survey on the state of privatized military housing survey last year, we saw this vision in action and knew we were on to something special — essential even — at MFAN. Despite living and working in the military community, we were shocked to see how many families were struggling. If those of us living this experience in communities around the country were not fully aware of the span of housing issues, then we know this for sure: military families needed a larger megaphone to share their experiences; and lawmakers, leaders, and corporations needed data they could rely on.

Thanks to the nearly 17,000 military families who shared their experiences, MFAN was able to respond and to provide that megaphone.

The survey responses provided reporting that resulted in 498 million earned media responses! And, thanks to this research, and the willingness of these families to speak up, people started listening.  Now, it’s our responsibility to ensure they continue listening.

Our work does not stop with research. That is only the beginning of the conversation about the military family experience, needs, and solutions. Not only will MFAN continue to conduct scientific, qualitative research, but we will also continue to share our data and focus on collaborative approaches to address data-informed needs. This approach — as seen with privatized military housing — allows us to shorten the amount of time between the identification of an issue and the work that needs to be done to solve it.

But we want to continue to do more, and you’ve made that possible by participating in and supporting MFAN’s research. In 2020 we are trading up for a larger megaphone and are doubling down on our goal of providing actionable data for all those who serve the military and veteran community. 

Our 2019 Military Family Support Programming Survey was our most comprehensive research effort yet.

Military and veteran families were generous, thoughtful, and detailed in the information they trusted us with, leaving us with a substantial amount of data.

We have decided to release MFAN’s survey findings in three distinct phases to dive deep and to respect and honor the level of detail shared with us. This approach will allow us to continue to empower policymakers with data that is clear and actionable. We are committed to making the feedback military and veteran families provided count.  

Here is our promise to you: we will stay true to our name and will advise on the best path forward based on data. Because of our investment in our internal research infrastructure, we are able to understand overarching and demographic-specific needs. Our research is unique because of MFAN’s investment in qualitative information gathering. This unique focus means that the responses we receive are more than a multiple-choice selection; we report feedback in the words and voices of the military families we serve. 

Here’s what you can expect this spring:

In our first release, we will present a closer look at the health and wellbeing of military and veteran families and what is needed to thrive. 

In the second release, we will examine the progress and current approach to perennial focus areas, including employment, housing, and finances. We want to know, is the needle moving in these areas? 

Finally, in the third release, we will share the current state of the modern military family and answer the question, is military life conducive to relationships with those we love and their ability to thrive? 

With each release, MFAN will present what our research tells us, with a special focus on how military families prefer to receive support and resources.  We will culminate our efforts with a Solutions Summit this summer, where we will work with the MFAN board of directors, advisory board, alumni, and partners who share our passion for improving the lives of military families. These people and organizations, quite literally, provide the fuel for our organizational engine, and we could not do what we do without them.

As we look forward together, we know there will be continuing stressors and challenges. We know the future is unpredictable. But we also know that we are stronger and louder and more powerful together, so I invite you, and I encourage you to stay in touch and stay connected.

Above all, we wish the best for your military family in 2020. We promise to keep listening. 

Warmly, and in service,
Shannon Razsadin