Agencies unite to support military families, servicemembers

Sixteen federal agencies will collaborate to offer a broader range of services to military families as part of President Obama’s new effort to provide more support to servicemembers who have borne the heavy burden of fighting two overseas wars.

Sixteen federal agencies will collaborate to offer a broader range of services to military families as part of President Obama’s new effort to provide more support to servicemembers who have borne the heavy burden of fighting two overseas wars.

The new initiative, announced by Obama on Jan. 24, covers a multiplicity of needs, including delivering better mental health care to servicemembers, providing more help for homeless vets and focusing federal education dollars on servicemembers’ school-age dependents.

“We are here today because nearly a decade of war has been taking place, and our armed forces have done everything [they’ve] been asked to do,” Obama said. “This isn’t just a military or a moral obligation. This is a matter of national security. With millions of military spouses, parents and children sacrificing, the readiness of our armed forces depends on the readiness of our military families.”

The agencies have made 50 commitments to improve support services, Obama said. The commitments envelop four broad areas: well-being and psychological health, education for military children, career and education assistance for military spouses, and improved, accessible child care.

The initiative embraces far-reaching partnerships among multiple federal agencies. These include:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services has partnered with the DoD to find ways to best confront suicide trends within military family and veteran populations.
  • The departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Labor and HHS have teamed to eliminate vet homelessness by 2015. 
  • DoD, the departments of Labor and Commerce, and the Small Business Administration will partner to expand career opportunities for military spouses. As part of this career improvement effort, the departments of Treasury, Transportation, Homeland Security, and DoD will accelerate efforts to remove professional licensing barriers for spousal career advancement.
  • The Department of the Interior will work with DoD to provide expanded opportunities for military families to use DOI lands, parks and recreational facilities for recovery. As part of this, DOI staff will receive training on military culture and will build stronger partnerships with existing private organizations that serve military families.
  • DoD will evaluate compensation levels for service in a combat zone as well as Reserve and National Guard compensation, benefits for caregivers and surviving families and incentive pay for critical career fields such as mental and behavioral health professionals.

The initiatives are contained in the report, “Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America's Commitment,” produced by the National Security Staff and Domestic Policy Council, which was also released on Jan. 24.

To see more, go to:  http://tinyurl.com/4fwh8dn (report) or http://tinyurl.com/4obafnp (Obama transcript).

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