Goals & Strategy
Sharing Promising Ideas for Policymakers and Advocates
Policymakers and community leaders are eager to support military servicemembers and their families. Sometimes, however, they lack an easy means of learning what they can do to help. America’s Promise Alliance has pulled together a wide range of effective policies and best practices into a central online clearinghouse. These resources will help:
- highlight some of the major problems facing military families
- highlight policies and programs that most effectively address those problems
- direct policymakers and advocates to organizations that can provide further information and resources.
Expanding Public Awareness
Most Americans are unaware of the daily stresses that military families face – or the sometimes unbearable stresses that wartime deployments can bring. Military life has always been unpredictable. Families face frequent moves and separations; their children are routinely uprooted from friends and neighborhoods; and military spouses struggle to find jobs. The impact of the current war will continue to have a lasting impact on military children.
Strengthening Connections between Advocates
For far too long, child and family advocates have operated on the outdated assumption that the military is a self-contained, self-sufficient system with a multitude of services and subsidies. When family and child advocates consider policies or programs to support vulnerable children, they rarely consider military children as part of their responsibility.
For its part, the military community has relied too long on an old model – taking care of its own. While that was possible a generation ago when only 15 percent of the military personnel had families, now it is no longer possible. With the advent of the All-Volunteer Force and heavy reliance on National Guard and Reserve forces, more than half of military personnel now have families. There are nearly 2 million military connected children, including 1.2 million who are school-aged.
Through a variety of means, our initiative works to break down the silos between the military and civilian policy communities. We help traditional child and family advocacy groups learn more about military-connected children and how to include these children in their policy reform proposals and programs. We also help the military community learn how to make “outside-the-gates” civilian systems work better for military families.
- Listening to families by working with our partners to learn first-hand what obstacles families face and what support and services they need
- Spreading the message and giving wider voice to their issues through a variety of convenings and through traditional and new media
- Identifying concrete solutions that respond to military families’ needs and sharing this information with family advocates, community-based organizations and policymakers
- Enlisting partners — nonprofit, civic and business leaders as well as policymakers and advocates — to build support for those solutions and to implement them
“It is a special kind of pride and a special kind of fear military children labor under. Like the children of police officers and firefighters, they do not know whether Mom or Dad will survive the day. … But unlike those other children, military kids face this fear over prolonged periods of time. The ache doesn’t go away when Dad walks through the door at night, because he won’t walk through that door for more than a year at a time.”
—Deborah Mullen, wife of Chairman Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, March 23, 2011, Grad Nation Summit Roundtable on the Education of Military Children