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6: Community, Civic, and Religious Leaders

Communities provide a critical safety net for military families and survivors, especially for parents and siblings of service members. Schools, youth organizations, religious groups, health care providers, and volunteer networks provide opportunities to extend support and offer encouragement to military families.

More than seventy percent of military families currently live “outside the gate” in communities and rural locations around the country.  For military families, receiving support from their own community is critical.

Action Items:

  • Work together with other community leaders to create a “Community Blueprint” of services available to military families and survivors. Consider organizations that have programs designed to positively affect children like the scouts, YMCA, YWCA, local sport teams, and after-school programs. Make the guide available to all of the service providers and to local military families.
  • Gather together a diverse group of organizations – fraternal organizations, women’s clubs, local Chambers of Commerce, and religious organizations - or others to offer their skills and resources to work with military families.

 

  • Develop training for all of the service providers in your community that work with military families to help them gain more awareness and a better understanding of the culture of the families they will serve.
  • Train service providers in your community to recognize the signs of mental and emotional stress in military families and survivors.

Resources:

The National Military Family Association created Toolkits for Military Kids and Teens to give the people in military kids’ lives a way to help them manage stress and affirm the positive aspects of military life. Visit www.militaryfamily.org/publications/deployment-family-research to download the toolkits.

The Military Family Research Institute has created a series of informational brochures titled, “How to Help Military Families.” These guides provide practical tips and suggestions for helping your neighbors, friends, and community members who have a military affiliation. Visit www.mfri.purdue.edu/content.asp?tid=6&id=25 to download the brochures.

Joint Services Support is a program of the National Guard Bureau. Open to all Guard, Reserve and Active Duty families - regardless of Service, JSS provides information on programs and services available in your community. For more information, go to www.jointservicessupport.org.

The American Red Cross has resources including financial assistance, referral, and deployment tips to help military families. The Red Cross has also developed a course on Psychological First Aid for Military Families. Visit www.RedCross.org for more information on their military family programs.

The Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE), in collaboration with PBS, has produced a handbook for military families.  A Handbook for Family & Friends of Service Members provides solu¬tions for service members and identifies outside tools and resources that may be useful to friends and family members before, during, and after deployment. Go to www.realwarriors.net/materials/order/PBSHandbook.php to order the handbook.

Military Community Youth Ministries is an ecumenical Christian ministry that reaches out to military teens. For more information on their programs and locations, go to www.mcym.org.

National Network of Partnership Schools provides research-based guidance on engaging parents, schools, and community leaders to create student success in schools. Find out more at www.partnershipschools.org.

The Citizens Soldier Support Program (CSSP) is a capacity-building initiative designed to strengthen community support for National Guard and Reserve members and their families. Visit www.citizensoldiersupport.org for more information.