ARLINGTON, Va. (July 14, 2010) -- After nearly a decade of war, America's military families continue to receive support from sundry sources of finance, entertainment and education -- including now a burgeoning network of more than 800 museums across the country.
The "Blue Star Museums" project provides military families this summer with free admission to museums large and small, from town to country.
"The response has been so beautiful and overwhelming," says Cathy Roth-Douquet, a volunteer with Blue Star Families, a non-profit with 70 chapters on military bases and National Guard sites.
The project began early this year when the National Endowment for the Arts asked Blue Star Families how they could help. After a brainstorming session, the two groups in late March sent a letter to museum associations, hoping to augment the summer educational experience for military children.
"The responses poured in quickly and dramatically and no one's even offered them funding," says Roth-Douquet. "But they leapt at the opportunity to show their support for military families and hundreds - 650 museums, to be precise - responded immediately. We now have more than 800 museums in the network."
The partnership receives private money to promote the project, but provides no money - government or otherwise - to pay the museums. Blue Star Families hopes to make free museum admission a summer rite for military families.
Roth-Douquet says she has traveled the country this summer with her children as they await the imminent return of her husband from Afghanistan. "It brings us closer to the country that we're fighting for," she says.
Highlighted by numerous national news outlets, Blue Star Families has leveraged media and social networking for the past two years to support military families, providing 100,000 children's books to military bases, among other initiatives.