NMFA Year in Review
With 2017 in the rear-view mirror, NMFA is busy moving down the road to take 2018 by storm.
2017 was filled with many changes, including TRICARE reform, a new Administration, and international conflicts that have kept over 300,000 troops deployed worldwide. NMFA has worked tirelessly on behalf of service members and their families and will continue with that commitment into 2018 and beyond. For now, let’s take a look back at our Association’s efforts to support military families, like yours, this year.
NMFA was founded with the mission of bringing the voice of military families to policymakers and those who have the power to make big decisions in our country. In 2017, our Government Relations team spent more than 150 hours giving testimony and recommendations on how the military healthcare system can improve families’ experiences. Many hours were spent reviewing various new policies, and providing the military family perspective to federal and state legislative staffers. These efforts saw some pretty awesome “wins” for military families this year:
- Pay raises of 2.4% for service members;
- Requirements that the Defense Health Agency (DHA) improve and report on pediatric care in the Military Health System (MHS), as ordered by Congress. This win is largely thanks to all of the stories we received from military families like yours;
- TRICARE policy that allows terminal military kids to receive pediatric hospice care AND medical treatment concurrently;
- Reimbursement for military spouses who incur license or certification costs associated due to PCS moves;
- The permanent authorization of Department of Defense Educational Activity (DoDEA) grant funding for public schools serving large numbers of military-connected students;
- Permanently extending cost of living increases for surviving spouses who receive the Special Survivors Indemnity Allowance (SSIA).
In addition, NMFA had the pleasure of hosting a Congressional Reception sponsored by Pentagon Federal Credit Union, attended by prominent members of the military, as well as members of Congress. Senator Patty Murray, Holly Petraeus, and Barbara Thompson received NMFA’s distinguished Support of Military Families Award for their advocacy efforts on behalf of the Association.
We’ve also met with Ivanka Trump to discuss military spouse employment and licensure issues, participated in many round-tables and panels surrounding NMFA advocacy efforts, and have received several grants that will help us continue those efforts well into 2018.
Other notable NMFA events include:
- Provided testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding military family readiness programs;
- Participated in the Vietnam War Memorial Wall “Reading of the Names” ceremony on Veterans Day;
- An event with Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, to continue the conversation regarding military spouse employment issues;
- Covered two events at the behest of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) for their Capitol Concert series on Memorial Day and Independence Day;
- A fundraiser at The Comedy Cellar in New York hosted by comedian Dave Attell, which raised $10,000 for NMFA;
- Went to several film premiers for a documentary called I Am Battle Comic, in which all ticket proceeds were donated to NMFA and our efforts.
Our Operation Purple® Program has continued its focus on military family wellness. In 2017, we had the honor of hosting 97 military families at our Operation Purple Family Retreats® and Operation Purple Healing Adventures®, where 471 service members, spouses and children learned to reconnect as a family after deployment or thrive after a war injury or illness.
Thanks to program sponsors and caring donors, over 1,500 military kids from around the country were able to attend one of our Operation Purple Camps. Forty percent of our campers came from families of the wounded, ill or injured, and nearly every camper had at least one parent deployed or returning from deployment. We also piloted our first Operation Purple Buddy Camp in 2017, where 92 military kids and family members spend 3 days bonding, healing and having fun at Camp Sandy Cove in West Virginia.
NMFA’s Volunteer Corps gave over 6,000 hours of their time in 2017, furthering our mission and support of military families around the world. In addition to volunteering their time judging scholarships or writing for our blog, they represented NMFA at multiple events to share critical resources with military families in their communities. Our Volunteers identified issues and trends in their local communities and worked closely with our Government Relations team to take these stories to policymakers on Capitol Hill. Their “boots on the ground” perspective helps NMFA provide real life perspective when advocating for military families.
Most recently, our Volunteers have become an integral part of Military One Click’s (MOC) MilSpouse Fest events. These conferences, attended by over 1,000 military spouses, have been put on around the country at various installations, and NMFA Volunteers have assisted the MOC staff at each and every one. As a presenting sponsor at these events, we facilitate our More Than A Spouse segment, which empowers military spouses to advocate for themselves and their families. We also presented a $1,000 scholarship to a deserving military spouse at each event, helping to further their career and educational pursuits.
In 2017, we awarded over $532,000 in scholarship money to 581 spouses. This funding provides military spouses the opportunity to pursue their education and career goals by helping to pay for all degree levels, licensure, or certification exams and fees. Since 2004, NMFA has awarded over $4 million to thousands of military spouses and will continue to do so in 2018 and beyond. We’ve also teamed up with more partner schools, who are an integral part of making education accessible for the loved ones of our nation’s troops.
Most recently, NMFA began offering funding to military spouses who own, or are growing, their own businesses. We recognize the challenges faced by military spouse entrepreneurs who are constantly rebuilding their businesses following frequent PCS moves. Our professional fund scholarships help provide a cushion to help absorb additional costs, purchase supplies, or further professional development goals that will help spouses grow their business.
We saw many changes that are still surrounded by uncertainty in 2017. While many battles have been won, there will be others on the horizon. NMFA stands ready, willing, and able to continue our support of military families and we look forward the road ahead.
Posted January 1, 2018