Have you ever wondered how your favorite big box store or restaurant chain made it to your town? Perhaps your question was why there are too many of one store and not enough of another. Part of that answer lies in the information gathered during the Census, which is conducted every 10 years to count everyone living in the United States. This year, people living in the United States will receive a Census postcard in the mail, between now and March 20. Everyone is required to answer and can do so online, by telephone or mail.

The Census can be confusing for military families who might assume that where they count is tied to their home of record or where they pay taxes. “Some people think because they are here temporarily, they don’t need to count here,” said Glenn Hargett, staff to the Jacksonville-Onslow Complete Count Committee. Unfortunately, this assumption is damaging to military towns like Jacksonville who depend on millions of dollars in federal funding that support school systems, parks, emergency services and health care. “The truth is that there will be another family here after you leave that can enjoy more quality of life items as a result of you filling out the Census.”

Service members and families who are stationed at MCB Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River should count themselves living in their current city, if that is where you live and sleep most of the time. “The Census number sticks with a community for 10 years, and having the correct count, means it is easier to get the proper resources for the community you’re living in,” said Hargett.

Service members living in barracks will be given a paper based response option and tracked by their unit census coordinator.

Service members stationed here, but deployed overseas will be counted by the DoD using information from the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), with the exception of those deployed on a Naval vessel who will be counted on their ship.

You have until July 31 to respond, but Census takers will begin visiting neighborhoods in May for areas with low response rates. Remember, count everyone who lives in your home, regardless of their age or relationship to you. The only exception is for service members deployed overseas who will be counted separately.

For more information on Census 2020, visit www.2020census.gov.