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10: Federal Government and Military Leaders

Military families and families of the fallen have traditionally looked to the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Service branches for services and support, but all federal agencies share in the responsibility for ensuring that their programs and services are accessible to military families. Recognizing this shared responsibility, President Obama issued a Presidential Directive in 2010 requiring all federal agencies, as well as the White House Domestic Policy and National Economic Councils and the Offices of the Vice President, the First Lady, and Dr. Biden to develop a coordinated Federal government approach to supporting and engaging military families.

Military leadership at all levels and civilian leadership at the federal executive level have the capability to make a difference in the health and well-being of military families. Research shows that service members are less effective when their families back home are in distress. Many of the actions needed are not costly, but can have significant positive effects on the families at home.

Action Items:

  • Installation and unit commanders, or their designees, should work with schools to coordinate major events, such as homecomings and reintegration periods after units return home. If military leaders and schools can coordinate these major activities they can minimize any attendance and activity participation disruptions.
  • Ask all installation commanders to appoint installation coordinators who will work with local community volunteer organizations to connect individuals and groups to the needs that have been identified by military families or family-serving professionals and volunteers on the installation.
  • Develop core program standards for family services taking into account the need for building resiliency skills. These standards should be shared with all family service providers. In addition, accountability measures should be developed for programs using federal funds.

 

  • Adopt consistent program names. A common name or brand for describing programs should be used among all Service branches and installations so that family members and families of the fallen can find the programs they’re looking for regardless of location.
  • To fulfill the responsibility to provide quality health care, review the existing availability and qualifications of mental health providers, identify where the shortages of providers exist and fill the gaps.
  • Develop a strategic communications plan to improve information dissemination to military families, families of the fallen, and the variety of stakeholders who support them.

Resources:

To access the Presidential Directive report, “Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment” and to read what federal agencies are doing to respond to the President’s call to action go to www.defense.gov/home/features/2011/0111_initiative/.

Military OneSource is a comprehensive, free resource and referral service for military families and families of the fallen providing information for everything from moving, to counseling, to car repair services. For more information, go to www.militaryonesource.com.

MilitaryHOMEFRONT is the DoD website for official Military Community and Family Policy (MC&FP) program information, policy and guidance designed to help troops and their families, leaders, and service providers. Go to www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil and click on “Leadership” for more information.

Department of Defense Educational Activity Educational Partnership works with local schools to provide caring adults to enhance the education experience for military children. Visit www.militaryk12partners.dodea.edu for more resources and information.

The Citizens Soldier Support Program (CSSP) has developed training and resources for Health professionals and families. Visit www.citizensoldiersupport.org for more information. To access CSSP’s searchable database of primary and behavioral health care providers who are trained in serving military members and their families go to www.warwithin.org.

The Department of Defense (DoD) State Liaison Office seeks to engage the states about the needs of military members and their families. To learn more about the DoD State Liaison Office and their ten priorities visit www.usa4militaryfamilies.dod.mil.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is a DoD program to support National Guard and Reserve members and their families before, during and after deployment. The Yellow Ribbon Program has created a Center of Excellence that highlights lessons learned from state and local community programs. To access the Yellow Ribbon Program and the Center of Excellence go to www.yellowribbon.mil.