Center for American Progress

National Military Family Association Releases Analysis on Military Family Support

At a time when the U.S. armed forces are shouldering an enormous responsibility abroad, we must ask if we doing enough to ensure that the spouses, children, and relatives that are a crucial source of strength for our troops have access to the support they need? And if we continue using our armed forces in a manner that requires repeated deployments of units, will we remember the especially difficult challenges imposed on military families?

The National Military Family Association yesterday released a report analyzing the needs and priorities of military families. It examines military family support in all seven uniformed services between September 2001 and March 2004, drawing on data culled from more than 2,500 survey responses and numerous focus groups and interviews.

Men and women in the armed forces depend on their families to help them deal with long periods of separation and the stresses of reintegrating to society. These families of military personnel likewise face unique stresses and need support. President Bush's decision to emphasize the use of military power to fight terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has subjected both our armed forces and their families to an extraordinarily high pace of operations. In the last three years, we have called on our uniformed men and women (both active and reserve) to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan, occupy and reconstruct Iraq, ensure stability in Haiti and Liberia, and maintain deployments in Korea, the Balkans, and the Sinai.

In light of the fact that budgets are limited, the report requests no new programs, but instead proposes organizational shifts and the adoption of best practices. The report groups these suggestions under four themes: communication, training, partnerships, and community support. The report cites two important issues that require further research: the needs of children during periods of high operational tempo and the reintegration of families after service members return from their deployments.

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