By Buddy Blouin
Military service is the sacrifice of many who take on the ultimate call of patriotism, but while those individuals are out defending our country, their families must deal with missing a piece of their home. When a service member is deployed, his or her immediate family members are called Blue Star families. Blue Star Banners may be hung from their residences with permission from the federal government. Blue Star Museums are places of culture in a nationwide program to provide free access to those who qualify as a way to celebrate the military community.

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What Is a Blue Star Museum?

Blue Star Museums came about as a collaboration amongst the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the National Endowment for the Arts, and various museums throughout the United States. The Blue Star Museum Program provides free admission for active-duty troops, members of the National Guard, members of the Reserve, and their families to participating museums. One of the cool things about museums is that they come in many different shapes and forms. You have art museums, those dedicated to preserving the culture and heritage of groups, historical museums, scientific, etc. The program has a great range of options, including military museums, meaning that there's something for everyone. From young children to adults, you’ll be sure to find a museum offering great exhibits for you to enjoy. Doubling down on an emphasis on families, the program is generally available from Armed Forces Day, mid-late May, and ends after Labor Day in early September. This makes it the perfect summer activity for military families throughout the country.

Important Information for Planning Your Trip

There are over 2,000 museums participating in the Blue Star Museums Program. For access, you’ll need to bring your Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card. The ID holder and as many as five family members may enter. Children under 10 without proper ID are still eligible to participate while attending with someone holding the proper ID. Access may vary, so some special exhibits may cost extra depending on the venue. Your limit is as many museums as you can fit within the program’s window. Enjoy your adventures, and be sure to check back to see updates as they become available for the 2023 season.

Supporting Military Families Through Education and Culture

Tangible support for the military community is important for things such as financial assistance, moving, healthcare, and more. But so, too, are community aspects that come from good deeds and good opportunities. Blue Star Museums are a prime example. The stress and challenges that come to military families are something only they will be able to relate to. It’s a unique burden, and having a chance to unwind can go a long way. One of the keys of the program goes back to the variety that you can find within. Even if you aren’t an avid museum-goer, you’ll be able to find something you’ll enjoy or at least try something new.

How To Become a Blue Star Museum

It’s true; there are many museums already a part of the program, but more options only mean a better experience for everyone. If you’re looking to become a Blue Star Museum, visit the official Blue Star Museums Registration Page. Even if your admission is free already, you can join. You’ll need a website, as you’ll be linked to their interactive state map for military families to find through their Blue Star Museums list, and while not a hard rule, it’s obvious that your museum’s hours should work with the dates that coincide with the program. Blue Star Museums represent just one of the many ways Americans have found to give back to the military community. Museums are a great way to expand minds, grow, and enjoy entertainment. Enjoy the program, and if you run a museum, be sure to consider joining the cause.

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Image: Anton Ivanov Photo - stock.adobe.com



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