Serving Those Who Serve Our Nation

A message from President & CEO Nancy Gannon Hornberger

Soldier Dad with Two KidsVeterans Day, November 11, commemorates the signing of the armistice ending WWI, and honors the bravery and service of all Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Veterans Day also gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we’re now doing and can do even better to serve those who serve our nation. San Diego County has one of the nation’s largest populations of active duty, transitioning and Veteran military members and their families in the country.

At SAY San Diego, we have a dedicated focus on serving military families who, like service members, devote themselves to the mission of serving and supporting everyone else and our nation. Military families are resilient, have extraordinary can-do attitude, respond optimistically to adversity and the unexpected, and often emerge strengthened, more resourceful and more confident. Yet, challenges of stress, trauma, social isolation and economic insecurity experienced by military families are daunting—far beyond the challenges faced by non-military families.

Military families are expected to maneuver through transitions and changes that dramatically outpace other families. Military families here in San Diego report that the average length of leave is 8 months. We also know that family size is larger and that the Armed Forces assigns families with special needs children to San Diego due to the high quality of care available locally. Other challenges include re-establishing themselves in new communities and schools, changing daily and yearly routines, and coping with leaving behind friends, family and familiar situations. Related to these stressors, military families report a higher need for child and family services.

We ask so much of our military—including repeated deployments and lengthy separations—therefore, it is essential to do whatever we can to assist them to have healthy, thriving and happy family lives. SAY San Diego is entrusted to convene and serve as the backbone organization for the San Diego Military Family Collaborative, now more than 100 organizations strong. Here, we coordinate services to assist families with everyday needs, like finding a sports program or a dentist, as well as more daunting challenges, as mentioned above.

Additionally, SAY San Diego operates a Military Family Resource Center in Murphy Canyon as a touchstone for military members and their families to meet, access local services, participate in children’s playgroups and parent/spouse classes, navigate local schools and special needs programs, and connect with their peers and with SAY’s services and those of partner organizations.

San Diego County has been nationally recognized for its collaborative efforts as well as many peer-to-peer supports for military families. There’s no question that by working together, we increase dramatically the resources and reach to serve and support military members and their families.