DOD official cites need for expanded family support networks

CHICAGO (AFNS) -- -- The Defense Department is working to expand and integrate its network of military and civilian helping professionals to ensure military families receive the support and care they need for years to come, the DOD official who oversees family programs said here April 27.

"History has shown that by combining our resources, we can meet any challenge, in any circumstance. ... It's our greatest strength," said Robert L. Gordon III, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy.

Mr. Gordon touched on the importance of collaboration in military family support during his remarks to nearly 2,000 family-support specialists attending the opening session of the 2011 Family Resilience Conference, hosted by the Defense and Agriculture departments.

The joint conference is fitting, Mr. Gordon noted, since the Defense and Agriculture departments share a common goal of improving the health and well-being of "those we serve."

"Our coordinated efforts are important not only to our military families, but to all citizens in our local communities," he said.

Promoting the well-being of military families is more important now, in these "unprecedented, challenging times," than ever before, Mr. Gordon said.

"In the past few weeks alone, our military communities have experienced natural disasters -- earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, blizzards, floods and tornadoes," he said. "Add to this the nature of military living, current fiscal concerns and the everyday realities of life.

"I am absolutely confident that together we will support, serve and strengthen our military families," he continued, "not only to navigate the unique aspects of military life, but also to thrive in the wake of life's uncertainties."

Mr. Gordon said Americans can learn a great deal from military families.

In a recent blog post, Mr. Gordon asked military spouses what they wanted potential employers to know about them and received this response: "We have a deep pride in being military spouses and being the support behind our service member. (With) every challenge that we face, we become better and stronger through it."

Pamela Flemions, a community readiness technician at the Goodfellow Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness Center, agrees that it is important to provide support to families.

"Although military families and DOD civilians are able to endure many challenges and serve as role models of service before self; resilience does not mean invulnerability,"
she said. It is important for active duty, the guard and reserve, retirees and DOD civilians take advantage of the programs and services offered here to prepare families to competently handle the unique challenges that come with service."

The A&FRC offers a variety of programs, which work to empower military members, families and civilians with resources to build financial independence and the development of individual and family readiness.

These are a few of the programs offered at Goodfellow:

· Marriage 101
· Heart Link (spouse orientation
· Smooth Move
· Team Building
· Bundles for Babies/Prenatal Orientation
· Volunteer Opportunities
· Transition Assistance Program
· Relocation
· Information and Referral
· Personal and Work Life Education
· Personal Financial Management Training

The center is also one of 35 installations worldwide with a designated family support coordinator to assist families with special needs with information and referral services.

For more information contact the Goodfellow A&FRC at (325) 654-3893.

(Airman 1st Class Jessica Keith contributed to this article)