How Collaborative Efforts Effect Change in the Lives of Military Service Members


Collaboration is a buzz word.  It says, “Yes, I want to work together to build something greater than my own organization, help more people than I can alone, and I want to be recognized as an element of something larger.”  While at America’s Promise Alliance I was lucky enough to see how far real collaboration can go to affect change in the lives of military service members and their loved ones when it is done in earnest and with perseverance.

My opinions regarding most things are generally optimistic as I view a world that is surrounded by a soft golden glow of goodness; sometimes though I find myself discouraged by seemingly insurmountable obstacles to improvement and change.  With the Initiative for Military Families I was given an opportunity to work closely with greatly successful public-private partnerships* as we investigated their inner-workings and methods. 

After working with them for several weeks, it occurred to me that the partnerships are successful because they are able to ignore individual ambition in light of altruistic service.  My experience with these groups proved that I have not been remiss in the belief that each person is truly exceptional at heart. 

Imagine how effective we could all be if we learned from these great programs and came together to work collaboratively.  If we all choose to take this route we must be prepared to invest our time and our hearts.  If we do it right we can decrease repetition in programming and services, learn from each other’s mistakes, and most importantly evoke pivotal and sustainable change for everyone involved.

I did give warning earlier that I see a world that wears a halo of gold.  I will also admit that in our current political and economic climate it can be easy to grow cynical.  Though, through hard work and patience the public-private partnerships were able to make it work.  They came together, with a common goal in mind and have greatly succeeded!

So go ahead and say, “collaboration can never work and people are inherently selfish,” and I will say “Yes! It most certainly can, I’ve seen it in action.” 

*Inter-Service Family Assistance Committees (ISFACs), as titled by the Pentagon, work in collaboration to bridge the gap between for-profit ventures, non-profits, state government and the military, which is no small task.  Many ISFACs exist across the country; Florida’s Community Covenants, Army Communities of Excellence , New Hampshire’s Deployment Cycle Support Program , and Arizona’s Coalition for Military Families .  Each of these components consists of private, non-profit, and military components.  Most importantly, they reach a huge swath of people and offer help in significant ways.  For a more detailed description and state specific examples of these great programs visit our website .