Pandemic upending plans for military families, nonprofits stepping in to help

Posted at 11:55 AM, Mar 27, 2020

This week, the government put a 60-day freeze on military deployments, upending some family's plans in this uncertain time. The freeze also means some troops overseas can't come home.

Domestic travel restrictions are also causing headaches and keeping families apart.

"We have a family who's stuff already shipped. The car shipped, their home goods shipped, and now, they are stuck here until they don't know when without the things that they need," said Laura White.

White is the Director of Development and Community Engagement for Support the Enlisted Project (STEP), a nonprofit serving young military families in Southern California.

Making matters worse, she says spouses of those serving in the Armed Forces are facing layoffs and cut hours.

"In the United States, when you first enlist you're the first pay grade, it's called an E-1 through an E-6, so the first six pay grades, you slowly kind of move up. E-1 through E-4s are considered at or below HUD poverty levels, so a spouse's income is really important," said White.

This week, STEP held an emergency distribution event, providing families essentials like toilet paper, diapers, and food.

Following CDC guidelines, families picked up the goods from their cars.

"We're an organization that believes if you've chosen to serve, you deserve to be able to stay in your house, get food on the table, and get those basic necessities. And then we're going to work with you on how to maintain that forever," said White.

There's help like this around the country.

In all 50 states, military families can call 211 for access to basic necessities, financial assistance, and mental health resources.

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