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Family Matters Blog: Agencies Join Together to Support Military Families

By Robert L. Gordon III
Military Community and Family Policy

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2011 – Robert L. Gordon III is the deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy. In this Family Matters guest blog, Mr. Gordon shares details of the partnership federal agencies are forming as part of an unprecedented government effort to provide better military family support.

President Barack Obama today announced the findings of a study which identifies an enduring, government-wide approach to enhance the resilience of military families and to help them better navigate the unique aspects of military life by:

  • Enhancing the well-being and psychological health of the military family
  • Ensuring excellence in military children’s education and their development
  • Developing career and educational opportunities for military spouses
  • Increasing child care availability and quality for the Armed Forces

President Obama commissioned the study last spring, led by the National Security Staff with participation by every cabinet agency, to identify and address the most pressing family issues.  Presidential Study Directive-9 (PSD-9) is the culmination of the effort.

PSD-9 outlines agency commitments to create an integrated, sustainable government support structure for military families that is coordinated with and enhanced by efforts of non-profit organizations, commercial industry, and the general public in our communities.  This commitment extends to all who serve – more than 2.2 million Americans serving on active duty, including the National Guard and Reserve members who are geographically dispersed.

Our nation now nears its 10th year of combat.  Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than two million troops have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Fifty-five percent of the force is married and 40 percent have two children.  Only 37 percent of our families live on military installations; the remaining 63 percent live in thousands of communities nationwide.

The Defense Department and the military services have a wide variety of programs, policies and systems to promote good physical, emotional, spiritual, educational and social health.  This landmark initiative recognizes that the Defense Department cannot identify and address the most pressing issues alone and provides for an interagency approach to ensure the best possible support for our military families.

We are heartened by our continued partnership with government agencies that also embrace and fortify our military families and, in turn, our service members.  We applaud their efforts and are confident that this relationship will continue to strengthen service members, their families and the nation as a whole.

We commend and truly appreciate the great efforts made by both the private sector and non-profit organizations who have dedicated themselves to supporting and advocating for our military families. The American community is eager to support those in uniform and their families and these organizations act as an essential conduit.  In turn, our military families and service members are valuable assets in communities around the nation.

Finally, we recognize the strength of support from within the military community itself.  From official military programs to the multitude of support groups, readiness groups and volunteer efforts of all those connected to the military, ours is a community for whom service is a way of life.

It is vital for American communities to better understand the challenges our service and families members face – and how their communities can positively and productively involve those families.  We are in this together, for it is not merely the work of the military or the government but the nation.  Our commitment to strengthen and empower our military families is an enduring effort and one that will be carried out with continued transparency.  We will be inviting your feedback as we regularly check our progress.  When we invest in the well-being of our military families, we invest in the well-being of our nation.

To comment on this blog, or read other posts, please visit the Family Matters website.

For more coverage of this unprecedented effort, check out the American Forces Press Service Web Special Report: Strengthening our Military Families.

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