Dear Secretary Mattis,
The National Military Family Association would like to congratulate you on becoming our nation’s 26th Secretary of Defense (SECDEF). We realize you have your work cut out for you, so we extend our commitment to helping you keep up with the pulse of our military families.
As you know, military life is something unknown to many Americans. Your new role gives you an opportunity to elevate the strengths and the challenges of today’s service members and their families. You will have numerous opportunities to help narrow the military-civilian divide that widens as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to fade from public view. Your inspiration will show Americans that their support and understanding is critical to the well-being and success of the ones who stand on, and behind, our front lines.
While the nature of military deployments has changed, the frequency of those deployments hasn’t. Military families still need continuous support, no matter what type of deployment they face. Because for military families, gone is gone, and they’re still “one man down” on the home front.
A strong family is essential to an individual service member’s mission readiness. Military families need your commitment to provide the necessary support to promote family readiness. We recognize the burden of sequestration is heavy—we’ve seen military families carry the weight of unfair and unbalanced budget cuts since sequestration began. They’ll look to you to ease this hardship. As the voice of military families for more than four decades, we are eager to share their real-life experiences with you. Military family support and services should not be casualties of budget battles on Capitol Hill, and we are ready to arm you with the information to justify their necessity and end sequestration.
With the launch of a new military retirement system and upcoming Congressionally-mandated changes to military health care, it is urgent that you fill vacant senior leadership positions within the Department of Defense with the best quality people as quickly as possible. The programs and services that fall under those positions—such as the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Military Community and Family Policy—provide guidance to affect the specific ‘day-to-day’ challenges of our military families. Without the required oversight and support these key positions provide, readiness will be compromised, and families will be at risk.
Secretary Mattis, military families are the war-weary backbone of our military, and our Association is committed to working with you to preserve their resilience. As our military moves towards an enhanced state of readiness with ever-changing demands and missions, we pledge to stand by you with our boots on the ground as the trusted voice of our nation’s families. We look forward to being your ally, because together we’re stronger.
Posted January 23, 2017