Was there ever a time when you PCS’d and didn’t know anyone, but a stranger knocked on your door and welcomed you to the neighborhood? That one interaction may have changed your entire outlook on military life and your new home. Or, maybe you’ve experienced what it feels like not to be welcomed by anyone.
Whether your family’s been stationed at the same duty location for a few years or if this is your first year in a new one, you can help another family feel cared for during the turmoil and upheaval that comes with a PCS. Here are 3 ways to make new military families on base feel welcome.
1. Introduce Yourself
Incoming families may not know anyone in the area, so make it a point to be their first connection. Write down your name and contact info and, if your budget allows, consider bringing a welcome gift, such as a baked dish (casserole, cookies, etc.) or a gift basket sourced from local businesses.
You can also use this time to offer a playdate (if you both have kids), a dog park visit (if you both have dogs), or invite them over for dinner. Any of these ideas help to create a sense of community and will be much appreciated! If they seem reclusive or aren’t as receptive to your welcome gestures as you’d like, just give them their space and time to settle in. Moving is stressful and busy, so a little patience and understanding can go a long way in cultivating a positive relationship with them!
2. Share Neighborhood Info & Local Highlights
Help your neighbor feel safe and welcomed by providing them with a list of important local info, like emergency services, neighborhood Facebook groups, and local highlights for restaurants, sightseeing, and family fun.
3. Participate in Blue Star Welcome Week
Blue Star Families is a familiar name in the military community — they have made a global impact on military families around the world since their founding in 2009 by a group of military spouses. Their efforts to ensure servicemembers have the support they need to thrive is just one of the important reasons to participate in Blue Star Welcome Week, in recognition of the approximately 600,000 active-duty and transitioning military families who move to new communities each year.
From September 24 to October 2, 2022, military and Veteran families can get to know their communities better, meet their neighbors, and feel a sense of belonging in their new homes.
You can participate by signing a welcome card at bluestarwelcomeweek.org to help welcome new military families to your local neighborhood. Or, if you’re settling into a new location, you can sign up to receive a card yourself.
This event happens annually, so be on the lookout for it.
Being the new family on the block can be intimidating or lonely under any circumstance, but especially when you’re miles away from family and friends, or in a completely new country. A simple wave and “hello” from across the street can help someone feel more welcome, but if you’re unsure of which direction to go in, think about what would make you feel welcome if you were moving into a new neighborhood. It’s really the thought that counts!