General Dunford Gets Personal—Focusing on Military Families, Including His Own—at 2016 NMFA Leadership Luncheon

By: Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager

Military families are often in the shadows of the spotlight put on our nation’s service members. But at our 2016 Leadership Luncheon, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. made sure military families, and their unique sacrifices, were the star of the show.

During his keynote speech October 11 in Arlington, Virginia, General Dunford spoke about how our military force has fared during these last 15 years of war. But his focus remained on military families–the key to our military’s lasting strength.

“Were it not for the strength of our military families and their willingness to sacrifice, we couldn’t protect our nation and way of life like we do,” General Dunford said. “I am confident that we have the most professional, most confident, most capable force out there. But no nation recognizes the importance of families more than the United States.”

Having served nearly 40 years in the Marine Corps, General Dunford and his family have made their share of sacrifices; he watched his daughter’s college gradation on live stream video because Marine Corps duties called. And another PCS move meant his son had to be the ‘new kid’ again for his senior year of high school.

“Military life often means disruptions in school, career disruptions, missed birthdays, missed soccer games.” General Dunford said recalling the challenges of their military journey. “But because of our military experience, our children have a degree of resiliency.”

He credits military families’ resiliency to the communities around them. “Families have endured the long separations and challenges of military life because of the sheer commitment and pride they have toward the mission,” he explained.

His wife, Ellyn, echoed his sentiment during her introduction and credited the military community with making their journey a little easier.

“During every challenge, caring friends and even complete strangers have been here to help us,” she shared.

General Dunford says much of the strength of our force is a result of the whole family’s belief in something bigger than themselves. And being surrounded by a community “that just gets it” makes surviving and thriving in military life a little easier.

“Strength and resilience comes from the support network that’s in place to take care of our families,” he shared. “We couldn’t have stayed together as a family without the support of NMFA and many others, and NMFA is at the top of that list.”

As he glanced around the room, connecting eyes with Gold Star families and fellow military service members attending, General Dunford’s voice lowered, and his memory jogged back to this time 15 years ago, when Operation Enduring Freedom began.

“Back then, if we looked ahead at 15 years of war with an all-volunteer force, we would have said, ‘There’s no way we could continue to recruit qualified people. There’s no way military families could sustain that kind of sacrifice.’ But we have. And it’s because of the people in this room.”

Click here to view pictures from our 2016 Leadership Luncheon. This event was made possible by our Family Champion Supporters: Association of Military Banks of America (AMBA) and Beacon Health Options, plus our Family Patron Supporters: Health Net, Delta Dental, Wellpoint Military Care, Spectrum Healthcare Resources, Bank of America and  UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans.

Posted October 12, 2016

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