Last week I attended the Congressionally-mandated Department of Defense (DoD) Military Family Readiness Council (MFRC) meeting. Our Association has been invited to have a member sit on the council since its inception in 2009.
The Council consists of senior leadership, senior spouses, and representatives from three military family organizations: Blue Star Families, American Red Cross, and our Association.The MFRC is mandated to meet at least twice a year to review military family policies and programs, monitor implementation, and evaluate the effectiveness of military family readiness programs and the activities of the Defense Department. Each February, the MFRC submits an annual report to Congress highlighting their assessments. The 2012 report will be available after it has been submitted to Congress.
During the meeting, the council members discussed the priorities for 2013. The Council will focus on these areas:
- Improving joint-base services. Improving family program integration of Guard and Reserve families
- Coordinate efforts with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Cross Functional Teams:
- Assess military family needs, reduce duplication, and enhance program effectiveness
- Strengthen the force and enhance resiliency
- Public awareness, transition gaps, and building community capacity
- Exceptional Family Member Program
The MFRC is just one tool that the Defense Department and the Services use to review and evaluate programs. Our Association will follow the interaction between the MFRC and the new DoD-wide Common Services Task Force.
We realize that family programs will be affected by budget cuts and decrease in deployments, but our government officials must remember that, even with a decrease in deployments, military families rely on family programs to help maintain readiness and handle the challenges they face.
Our Association will fight for those programs that are most beneficial for military families; identifying the most effective programs is an essential part of the process. Redundancies and sometimes-bloated overhead impact the most important aspect of family programs – getting military families the resources and tools they need quickly and effectively.
The National Military Family Association is proud to sit on this council and represent your concerns. We look forward to working with the MFRC and the Task Force and hope that together we can identify those programs that are contributing to the strength and resilience of military families.
If you sat on the Military Family Readiness Council, what would your top three priorities for 2013 be?