Military Families and the Men in Office
by Maranatha Bivens, Communications Editor
It’s a strange notion, but new things make us think about the old. There’s nothing wrong with looking back! It gives you a stronger perspective for the events of the present, and helps shape where you’re headed in the future. While the inaugural celebrations are wrapping up we thought it would be fun to look back at what the Association has been up to during the eight Presidential administrations that have occurred since we started.
Nixon Administration (1969-1974)
Deep in the middle of the Vietnam War, the country was at the end of a tumultuous decade with cultural shakeups and many social changes on the horizon. President Nixon ordered the first major troop drawdown in 1969, just as the number of deployed U.S. troops reached 540,000. The last troops left Vietnam in March of 1973.
- 1969 - The Military Wives Association is created to secure support and benefits for surviving spouses
- 1972 - Survivor Benefit Plan becomes law; USPHS joins our Association
- 1973 - NOAA joins our Association – solidifying our position as the only organization to support all seven Uniformed Services
Ford Administration (1974-1977)
President Ford took office after Nixon resigned, and his presidency was marked with economic uncertainty. With troops out of Vietnam, the Nation faced a difficult period of transition between the military and civilian communities. Unemployment and inflation were high and the economy sank into the worst recession since the Great Depression four decades earlier.
- 1976 - The Association added “National” to their name and became the National Military Wives Association
- 1976 - Held first “Issues Workshop” to educate dependents on their benefits
Carter Administration (1977-1981)
The economic issues of the Ford administration continued into President Carter’s, spiraling into a full blown crisis because of rising energy prices and stagflation. Although the unemployment rate fell and there was a partial deduction in the deficit, Carter faced several crises during his presidency, including the 1979 takeover of an American embassy in Iran.
- 1979 - Association President Rosemary Locke presented testimony before the White House Conference on military families
- 1980 - Legislation was introduced concerning divorced military spouses; our Association testimony paved the way for the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act
Reagan Administration (1981-1989)
The “Reagan 80s” were certainly action packed, beginning with double digit inflation and closing with the end of the Cold War. Reagan declared war on drugs, hospital costs rose, the unemployment rate steadily increased, and Reagan faced scandal with the Iran-Contra Affair. In 1989, twenty-eight years after it was built, the Berlin wall came down.
- 1981 - Our Association supported a version of the GI Bill we know today; Fleet and Family Support Centers came into effect
- 1982 - Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act passed
- 1985 - The Association became the first organization to testify before a Senate subcommittee on the critical issue of health care for military families
- 1988 - We offered testimony on in-state college tuition for military families
Bush Administration (1989-1993)
After acting as Vice President during the Reagan Administration, George Bush became President in 1989. Major initiatives in this administration included the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Clean Air Act, which required cleaner burning fuels. Iraq invaded Kuwait and the resulting Gulf War began and ended in 1991.
- 1989 - We testified on the issue of Supplemental Security Income and were instrumental in securing a favorable vote from the House Way and Means Committee; Military Child Care Act was passed by Congress
Clinton Administration (1993-2001)
The Clinton administration dealt with many of the social issues still at the forefront in our present culture. President Clinton was the first to directly address gays and lesbians serving in the military by passing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act. Troops deployed to address conflicts in Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia. The administration made several attempts to capture Osama Bin Laden, who would play a central role in our national conflict in the years to come. Clinton faced personal scandal during his administration, and was the first president to be impeached since Andrew Jackson.
- 1995 - The Association creates the Very Important Patriot Award Program to highlight outstanding service members
- 2000 - Our Association worked to increase Base Housing Allowance and reduce out-of pocket-expenses for military families
George W. Bush Administration (2001-2009)
No recent president can say that a singular event shaped their administration more than Bush would say the terrorist attacks of September 11th shaped his. Soon after the attacks, we entered wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, starting the longest era of war the military has ever faced.
- 2004 - in response to the growing need to support military families coping with deployment, the Association created Operation Purple® camps
- 2004 - the Association begins offering military spouse scholarships through our Joanne Holbrook Patton Spouse Scholarship Program
- 2005 - the Association champions improvement to survivor benefits before the Senate VA committee
- 2006 - the Association releases the Cycles of Deployment report; first edition of the Military Spouse Education Resource Guide released
- 2007 - Operation Purple program honored at White House Event; Military Spouse Education and Military Youth Symposiums held
- 2008 - First Reserve Component Family Program Symposium held
- 2008 - Association champions issues that were included in the first changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act since 1993
Obama Administration (2009-Present)
As the nation closed in on a decade of war, Barack Obama took office during a period of uncertainty and change. The Association worked and built programs to secure our place as a critical information and support resource for military families, no matter what conflicts or issues may arise.
- 2009 - the Association releases research on military families and deployment and holds summit, When Parents Deploy: Understanding the Experiences of Military Children and Spouses, featuring a luncheon attended by First Lady Michelle Obama
- 2009 - First Operation Purple Family Retreat held for military families wanting to reconnect with a returning service member
- 2010 - Based on the summit findings, the Association releases Finding Common Ground: A Toolkit for Communities Supporting Military Families
- 2011 - the Association is asked to participate in the White House initiative Joining Forces
- 2012 - Association releases first mobile app to provide military family support
Politics aside, we have spent the past 43 years working to better the lives of military families. Although world and national issues continue to affect our community, we will continue to push forward and pursue innovative ways to provide support.
What would you like to see us accomplish in the next four years?
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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