By By Paul D. Prince, U.S. Army Forces Command Public AffairsMarch 29, 2010
FORT MCPHERSON, Ga., (March 29, 2010)-It's that time again in the United States, the time when we count the nation's population.
Known as the Census, this once-per-decade effort begins April 1, but many people have already started receiving the forms in the mail.
U.S. Department of Commerce officials said accurate census reporting among Soldiers and their Families is important. In fact, they emphasize that it's just as important to the military population as it is for their civilian counterparts.
The Census results determine the distribution of about $400 billion per year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. This money is what funds community services nationwide, services that also benefit Soldiers and their Families.
As the largest command in the Army, U.S. Army Forces Command certainly supports the national effort. "It is imperative for Army Families to take time to complete and submit their 2010 Census forms," said Brig. Gen. Rick Porter, FORSCOM G-1. "Census totals greatly impact both the civilian and military communities."
Individual participation in the 2010 census affects federal and state funding communities receive for such things as hospitals, job training centers, schools, emergency services and public works projects, said Alvin Howe, manager of the Fayetteville, N.C. local Census Office.
"Army Families living on and off military installations nationwide have a significant impact on surrounding communities; so it our responsibility, as good neighbors and good partners, to do our part in this year's census and be counted," Porter said.
Accurate reporting is especially important for communities heavily impacted by military installations that have large populations. For example, Fort Bragg currently has the largest population of Soldiers and their Families in the Army, The counties, cities and towns that surround Fort Bragg are also home to numerous Soldiers and their Families. And, even the Soldiers and Families who live on post depend heavily on the surrounding civilian communities for services that all Americans have come to expect and depend on in modern society.
That's why local Census office personnel outside Fort Bragg and all other installations work with appointed Census project officers at military installations to help the military support the process, Howe explained.
"It's important for military members and their Families - as well as anyone - to participate in the Census," Howe said. "Each person helps their community by filling out the form and sending it back immediately."
Each military installation in the United States has an appointed Census project officer. These project officers ensure Soldiers and their Families have access to Census materials, and they are also local points of contact who can answer Census questions.
"Partnerships with (military) Census project officers are vital," Howe said. "They are more familiar with post organizational structure and leadership, and (they) are instrumental in assisting the local Census offices to execute on- and off-post, door-to-door visits."
Soldiers who live in military barracks/dormitories on post or those who are in-patients at military treatment facilities during the time of the Census will receive a special form called a Military Census Report that contains six questions. Military Families living in on- and off-post housing will receive the standard Census questionnaires by mail.
Military personnel stationed outside the United States, including Family members who live with them, will not receive Census forms. Instead, they are counted as part of the U.S. overseas population, using administrative records from the Department of Defense, said a U.S. Department of Commerce official. The military overseas population includes those deployed for war, those stationed abroad and those serving aboard U.S. military vessels with a homeport outside the United States.
Census Bureau officials promise participants, Soldiers and civilians, that their information will be kept confidential.
"Keeping your answers safe and confidential is one of the Census Bureau's highest priorities," Howe said.
Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of all participants' information and violating this law is a crime with severe penalties. Violators of this U.S. Code can face fines of about $250,000 or even jail time, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
For more information about the 2010 Census, visit the Census Bureau's Web site at www.2010.census.gov or contact your local census office.