Monday, April 18, 2011

Joining Forces

For a few years now I have been volunteering for the National Military Family Association. I don’t do a whole lot other than read stuff I would already read, do training webinars, attend meetings on base as a representative for the Association and once I visited an Operation Purple Camp and wrote a report about it. Despite my lack of participating to the degree I might wish to, I have enjoyed being “in the know” and feeling as if I was doing something positive for military families.

Recently, (12 Apr 11) the First Lady, Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden launched a new initiative to support military families on a larger, national, scale. So far, their “Joining Forces” initiative seems both comprehensive and ambitious.

The Joining Forces website states “Joining Forces is a national initiative that mobilizes all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.  The initiative recognizes that though only “1% of Americans may be fighting our wars, we need 100% of Americans to be supporting our troops and their families.” President Obama showed his support and the importance he places on this initiative when he stated (in prepared remarks) that “no American in uniform has ever served alone: ‘Behind every American in uniform stands a wife or husband; a mother, a father; a son or daughter; a sister or brother. These families — these remarkable families — are the force behind the force.’" As both a Veteran and a military spouse, it’s refreshing to see the Commander in Chief, and the highest echelons of our society, recognize that more needs to be done to show support for our troops and their families.

One good resource for people who want to know more about how to show that support is the National Military Family Association. The Association just released a “How To” guide for supporting military families called “Finding Common Ground: A Toolkit for Communities Supporting Military Families.” According to the Association website, “this toolkit suggests easily-achievable action items and useful resources to guide anyone who wants to support military families, but doesn’t know where to start.” The guide has links to different “communities” such as “Family, Friends, and Neighbors”; “Military Families”; “Community, Civic, and Religious Leaders”; and “State and Local Government Officials” to name a few. Each community link contains “ideas and resources that can start conversations and stimulate action.” I’m not sure if the Association came out with this guide as part of the Joining Forces initiative but either way, it seems as if they go together pretty well.

I’m excited to see what else comes out of this initiative and see if/how it helps the rest of the country to understand a little better what military families go through on a regular basis. For people who have never served and/or never known anyone who has served it’s nice that they now have a place to go to find more information or learn how they can show they care. I’m always surprised when I meet someone who has never had any affiliation with the military yet are supporting our troops and their families. It makes me appreciate what they do even more because they truly are doing it to show their support and not just because they or their family may benefit from their efforts. I hope this new initiative and the Association’s “tool kit” both help to strengthen support for our military families.

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