Military Family Impact: Celebrating Victories and Moving Ahead for a Better 2024

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At the National Military Family Association, every day is spent amplifying the voices of military families who sacrifice so much for our nation. 2023 was a year marked by victories and celebrations as we deliver on our mission to stand up for, support, and enhance the quality of life for every military family through bold advocacy, innovative programming, and dynamic and responsive solutions.

20 Years of Impactful Programming

For more than 20 years, NMFA has served the military family community through innovative and accessible programming for military children and spouses.

Operation Purple Programs

In 2023, Operation Purple Camp saw more than 1,100 military-connected kids across nine locations across the country, and 1,600 families joined us online for, Operation Purple Summer Challenge. This eight-week interactive experience brought military kids and their families together worldwide to participate in fun weekly challenges and build connections.

The Joanne Holbrook Patton Military Spouse Scholarship Program

We saw a record number of applicants last year. This program was created in response to the unique obstacles military spouses face in attaining financial well-being, such as high unemployment and underemployment rates, frequent relocations, and family stressors atypical of their civilian peers. We awarded $558,000 in funding to 535 military spouses to pursue various educational and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Bloom: Empowering the Military Teen

Our military teen program continued to provide leadership opportunities for teens interested in public speaking, writing, journalism, art, drawing, and digital engagement. Avery Turner, one of our Bloom teens, was honored at the White House on the International Day of the Girl.

We love to hear our programs make a difference for the military families we serve. With the support of generous donors and partners, we look forward to continuing to serve military families, wherever they are in their journey.

Keeping a Pulse on Military Families

With a pulse on military issues through our research and engagement with program participants, we provide insight to lawmakers and community leaders give testimony before legislative bodies, participate in committees, and collaborate with organizations like the Military Interstate Compact Commission for Children.

2023 marked our third year of the Military Teen Experience Survey, which garnered insights from over 2,000 respondents and shed light on the challenges military teens face, from frequent relocations to the importance of friendships.

This year, we also heard from a record number of military spouses facing chronic unemployment through our spouse scholarship program. Military spouses are unemployed at rate of over 20%, higher than their civilian counterparts, and one in four military families struggles with food insecurity.

Healthcare challenges are another issue we continue to hear from families—from struggling with copays for mental health visits to navigating TRICARE Young Adult—military families need support.

We will continue to advocate for legislative solutions to issues impacting military families, including TRICARE improvements, incentives for hiring military spouses, and easier access to food assistance, while providing effective programming to meet immediate short-term needs.

Leading the Way in Advocacy

NMFA’s advocacy leadership has been instrumental in representing military families where decisions are made. This lengthy process often involves years or even decades to achieve legislative solutions, but we remain committed to addressing the complex problems military families face.

Amidst a polarized political landscape, NMFA called for stability for military families. Leaders and advocates reaffirmed our commitment to stability for military families and the challenges they face.

Repealing the “Widow’s Tax”

We kicked off 2023 with a huge win for surviving families who received much-needed financial relief through their first full payment of the Survivor Benefit Plan. This victory builds on the legacy of our founders, a small but determined group of military spouses united in their desire to ensure our nation cared for their widowed friends, knocking on doors of Congress until they passed the Survivor Benefit Plan.

Seeing these error-free payments made to surviving spouses and children of service members and veterans who have died due to service-related illness or injury continue to fuel our work.

New Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts

A decade-long advocacy effort to support military families seeking affordable, high-quality child care bore fruit. The Department of Defense introduced the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account, easing the burden of child care costs for military families.

Starting January 2024, military families can allocate pretax funds to be set aside to pay for dependent care services such as preschool, summer day camp, before or after school programs, and child or adult daycare. This policy change will immediately benefit families struggling with child care needs and potentially facing the decision to leave the military.

Standing Up for Military Families in 2024

As we reflect on 2023 with great pride, we know there is still more work to do.

Our legislative priorities for the 118th Congress take a multi-faceted approach to ensure military families’ sacrifices and dedication are not forgotten and provide them with the programs and resources they need to be strong, resilient, and ready.

We are not slowing down. 2024 is here, and we are excited for another solid year of advocating for better policies impacting military families and creating results through dynamic and innovative programming for military families across the world.

What issues are important to your military family? What are you looking forward to this year? Share your story below.