Census important to military, civilian communities
Col. Deborah B. Grays Garrison Commander Fort McPherson & Fort Gillem

Commander's Corner
Garrison Commander
Fort McPherson & Fort Gillem

Chances are good that by now, you've received notice that the 2010 census will be delivered to you soon. You may even have received your copy of the census.

While your first thought might be to file the document with your other "junk mail," doing so would be a major mistake. Your submitted census form is a very important document.

It affects the number of seats your state occupies in the U.S. House of Representatives and helps determine your area's share of $400 billion a year in federal funds for hospitals, schools, emergency services and bridges and other public works projects.

This month, an estimated 120 million forms will be mailed to households in the United States and Puerto Rico.

The counting of every resident in the United States every 10 years is required by the Constitution of the United States, and your submission of the completed census form is required by law.

This year's questionnaire is shorter than ever, with just 10 questions being asked. The census comes with a postage-paid envelope to make certain there is no financial cost to respond ... not even the price of a stamp. Here at Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem, as with other military installations, we're working to ensure the individuals in transient housing, barracks and other nontraditional housing are counted as completely as practical.

The census poses some questions unique to servicemembers and their Families.

For example, the first question of the census is "How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2010'" This question may leave the Families of deployed Soldiers or Soldiers who are serving unaccompanied tours overseas wondering how to respond. The answer: the Family should not count a spouse who is overseas because that Soldier will be part of the census' overseas personnel accounting. Another purpose of the census is to be able to provide accurate statistical data.

This data reflects our military presence, as well civilian information. For example, by visiting Web site www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/national_security_veterans_affairs/military_personnel_and_expenditures.html, you can get information on military personnel and expenditures.

At this site you can find links to information on active duty military personnel by installation; active duty military personnel by rank or grade; Ready Reserve personnel by race, Hispanic origin and sex; DoD personnel and more. This is one more example of why it is so vitally important that our military members and their Families complete their census surveys - accurate information about our military footprint can be used in countless ways of benefit to our community.

As you answer your census, be honest.

Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of your information, and violations of the law are a crime carrying severe penalties. Other federal laws, including the Confidential Statistical Efficiency Act and the Privacy Act, reinforce these protections.

Also, your answers cannot be used against you by a government agency or court. If you don't mail the form back, you will receive a reminder in the mail.

If you still don't respond, you may receive a visit from a census taker who will ask you questions from the form. If you should be visited by an individual claiming to be a census taker, be safe. Ask to see an identification card - all census workers must carry one.

Also, you can request a telephone number for the census taker's supervisor to confirm the worker's credentials.

For more information about the 2010 census, visit http://2010.census.gov. From this site you can view real-life stories of individuals regarding the census, get toolkits to educate children of the importance of the census and view a map showing the real-time participation rates of individuals both throughout the nation and in your local area.

The first census was taken in the United States in 1790.

So much has changed since then ... so much has changed since the last census was taken only 10 years ago. Do your part to record these changes - take time to complete and submit your 2010 census.

Editor's note: Information for this column was found on the 2010 census Web site, http://2010.census.gov.

Page last updated Fri March 19th, 2010 at 10:42