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Family Matters Blog: Mullen Presses for More Family Support

By Heather Forsgren Weaver
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2010 – Heather Forsgren Weaver, a colleague of mine at American Forces Press Service, is a regular contributor to Family Matters. Heather's been heavily involved in this blog from the start. She edits, helps write and posts content on a daily basis.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, greets U.S. Army Spc. Dennis Morgan, Jr., and Autumn Gustausen during a departure ceremony for members of the Vermont National Guard in Burlington, Vt., Jan. 8, 2010. Morgan is deploying for a yearlong tour to Afghanistan as a member of the 89th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

In this blog, Heather writes about a recent podcast by Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife Deborah where they talked about increasing support for Guard and Reserve families.

Family Networks Are Important

With all of the stresses of military life, families need support systems and the nation’s top military leader is working to make sure programs are available to eliminate the isolation that some National Guard and Reserve members and their families feel.

In a recent podcast,  Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife Deborah, expressed support for Guard and Reserve families.

Throughout his career, Mullen and his family have not felt the isolation felt by many Guard and Reserve families because they had a support network.

"In that family support network, there is a common understanding about what it means to be deployed. What it means to make the kind of transitions that we are asking so many of these families to make," Mullen said. "When you get to the Guard and Reserve, they are isolated and they don’t have that support network."

Installation-based programs are often not available to these families because they live too far away, Mrs. Mullen said, so it is important that Guard and Reserve families take advantage of web-based programs and resources. One program that Mrs. Mullen pitched was the Army Reserve's Fort Family.

Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz sets out Fort Family's vision on the website. "I want every military family living in small town America to have the same support as if they were living on the installation."

Sources like Fort Family are the "life ring" that military spouses and children can "grab onto" when the challenges of military life arise, Mullen said in his podcast.

A big issue for Guard and Reserve members and their families is reintegration when the servicemember returns from a deployment, both Mullens said.

"There is no opportunity for the families to readjust and for that servicemember to readjust," Mrs. Mullen said.

"Often there is a pressure to return to your previous life. Given the combat situations we face, the losses, the wounds, the stress, all of those things. I think we need to be measured about that reintegration. More deliberate," Mullen added.

For additional information, please read Lisa Daniel's American Forces Press Service article, "Mullens Advocate More Reserve Support" or listen to the podcast.

To comment on this blog, please visit the Family Matters blog.

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