Barbara Thompson, Director Office of Family Policy/Children & Youth/Special Needs of the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy)
Each of us has multiple roles in life. As the day goes by, we may be a service member, spouse, parent, relative, neighbor or a combination of them all. We transition from one role to the other with varying degrees of grace and ease. Some transitions are easier than others. Maybe we sit down to help a child with homework, but our minds are still spinning about work or the care of an elderly parent.
During Military Family Month in November, as we honor and celebrate the service and sacrifice of our modern military families, it’s a good time to talk about the Family Readiness System. This is a network of agencies, programs, services, and people working collectively to best support the readiness, quality of life and the resilience of military families. Resilience is the foundation of a strong military family; the purpose of the Family Readiness System is to strengthen that foundation. It does so through an integrated service delivery model for social services to meet each military family’s life challenges and needs with access to an entire system of support and pertinent resources offered by the DoD, community organizations and helping professionals.
When you have a strong family, you are able to be more centered as a person, a professional or a parent. That’s what allows us to put the day’s work behind us when we need to focus on meeting the needs of our family, such as making a healthy dinner, helping with homework, getting children ready for bed – any one of a long list of responsibilities that make a difference in the lives of those we love. Every parent wants to be a better parent, but you don’t have to beat yourself up if you miss the mark. It is okay to ask for help.
As part of the Family Readiness System, families have access to the New Parent Support Program, which includes home visitations by helping professionals, such as nurses or social workers, parenting education and other services to help young families understand the developmental needs of their young children, because informed parenting has been shown to promote positive child outcomes throughout their lifetime.
There is much more available through the Family Readiness System, because life requires a synergistic approach to achieve quality relationships and for families to be dynamic and responsive to changing needs, developmental tasks and challenges. We want our modern military families to celebrate their successes and learn from their failures.
Another critical component of the Military Family Readiness System provides confidential, non-medical counseling, which is aimed at preventing the development or exacerbation of mental health conditions that may detract from military and family readiness. No-cost assistance is available from anywhere 24/7/365 by visiting Military OneSource or calling 800-342-9647.
We want the modern military family to have easy access to support whether they go online to Military OneSource visit a local military and family support center, the child development program, their chaplain or a health provider. There is no wrong door to seek help.
We encourage you to explore these links and to share this message with members of your family and fellow military families. Military Family Month is a perfect time to acknowledge the pride, commitment and love that we see in our military families and to share with them the resources available to them when they need them.
If you share this over social media, we invite you to include the hashtag #MyMilFam to be part of a global shout out to military families. Let them know how special they are and celebrate their diversity. Today’s military families are quite diverse, from single-parent families, dual-military, same-sex, male spouse, no two are quite alike, but each one is essential to our service members’ mission. Use the hashtag to send them your encouragement and love when they need it most.
November is an ideal time to express your appreciation to a neighbor, friend or colleague who is part of a military family and to thank them for their vital service at home and in the community. Volunteering in support of military families is a great way to show your appreciation. Check out the Joining Forces website for lots of information about volunteering in support of military families. By appreciating, supporting and investing in military families, we invest in the strength of our nation.