FORT DRUM, N.Y, - For Families who serve and sacrifice alongside the millions of active and reserve component service members, there is a new support channel when life gets stressful.

Blue Star Families was formed in December 2008 by military spouses in an effort to raise awareness of the challenges of military Family life among civilian communities and leaders. BSF includes Family Members of all branches of service, including National Guard and Reserve, as well as veterans and civilians.

"Blue Star Families is a national nonprofit organization for military Family Members that serves all branches," said Laura Dempsey, BSF vice chairman, who along with Kathy Roth-Douquet, is an original co-founder of Blue Star Families and serves as vice chairman of the board.

"We were started by a small group - mostly Army and Marine Corps spouses - who wanted to find a way to address some of the gaps in services to military Families and find a way to connect some of those Families to the civilian groups out there who we know wanted help finding military Families to help and support."

Dempsey, wife of Lt. Col. Jason Dempsey, 3rd Brigade Combat Team operations officer, co-founded Blue Star Families because she wanted to help connect military Families and civilians to better understand one another.

Blue Star Families is a member-driven group with representatives at more than 70 bases around the world. Members come from all walks of life and have varied jobs such as teachers, marketing and public relations professionals, attorneys, web designers, coaches, authors and numerous others.

"The first thing we do is connect Families with civilian organization through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs as well as online articles," Dempsey said. "The second thing we do is help civilian nonprofit organizations who want to help military Families."

Blue Star Families is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, committed to supporting its members through the unique challenges of military service, regardless of rank, branch of service or location. Their goal is to empower military Families to create the best personal and Family life possible.

They accomplish this by providing both online and physical chapter-based communities and serving as a bridge between Families and support organizations striving to help make military life more enjoyable.

"Blue Star Families links people across the country and across branches of service, and that is how real out-of-the-box ideas can start," Dempsey said.

Dempsey added she presently is working to start a chapter at Fort Drum.

BSF's accomplishments since 2008 include the following:

*Started 70 chapters on military bases and National Guard sites.

*Partnered with "Be the Change" to develop national citizen service projects engaging with military Families.

*Launched the "Books on Bases Smiles on Faces" program with the Forbes 200 charity KIDS, to bring 100,000 children's books to military children.

*Participated in two major White House meetings with the first lady, on the Summer of Service and on Military Families.

*BSF has a monthly column in Military Spouse Magazine, which has global circulation of more than 60,000.

*BSF has been covered extensively in the national media: NBC, CNN, NPR, USA TODAY and Military.com.

On the BSF Web site, www.bluestarfam.org, there are numerous blogs with different communities people can join, such as National Guard and Reserve; Civilians Who Support Us; New to the Life; Little Ones in Tow; In for the Long Haul; The Workforce; When He's the Spouse; Moms and Dads; and Vets and Mentors.

"I think the thing that makes us unique is the fact that we're totally grassroots," Dempsey said. "We aren't tied to any other organizations. It is very supportive, and we don't try to fight with any other organizations. We really try to support them, and we have had very positive results."

Page last updated Wed February 10th, 2010 at 12:53