United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

MILITARY
FAMILY SUPPORT

Updated April 23, 2014
"Time and again, our service members
and their families have sacrificed to
protect the promise that defines our
Nation – life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness."

- President Barack Obama.

Caring for military families has become a national priority with the launch of the White House's "Strengthening Our Military Families" initiative and the related "Joining Forces" campaign. This ongoing AFPS special report provides regular updates on all DOD and related efforts to help improve the lives of military families.


Top Stories

White House Launches Veterans Employment Center

First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Veterans Employment Center, the first online one-stop shopping tool for veterans, transitioning service members and spouses in search of employment. Story

Pentagon Program Succeeds in Matching Military Spouses With Jobs

A program intended to help unemployed military spouses find jobs -- including positions with Fortune 500 companies -- is surpassing its goals, connecting more than 60,000 military spouses with 220 private- and public-sector partners since the program began three years ago. Story

First Lady Seeks Questions on 'Joining Forces'

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, are calling on Americans to submit questions via social media about "Joining Forces," a national initiative they started three years ago that mobilizes all sectors of American society to support service members and their families. Story

'Birdies for the Brave' Tees Up Support for Vets, Families

The Professional Golfers' Association Tour boasts a flourishing military outreach program for total force military members and their families, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. Story

First, Second Ladies Urge Support for Caregivers

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, are urging Americans to support the nationwide work of military caregivers. Story

Winnefeld Lauds USO, Contributors for Newest Warrior, Family Center

A new warrior and family care center will be essential to the recovery of wounded, ill and injured troops, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at the center's opening. Story

Winnefeld, Celebrities, Honor the Military at USO Dinner

Hundreds of people turned out to honor military members and their families during the 32nd Annual USO Metro Awards Dinner, where Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Mary, presented The Legacy of Hope Award to The American Military Spouses Choir. Story

Dempsey: Military Obligated to Care for Survivors

The military has a moral obligation to take care of veterans and the relatives of service members, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the audience at a gala where he also presented Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, chief of staff of the Air Force, with the TAPS Honor Guard Gala Military Award. Story

Sesame Street Friends Help Military Children Move

Children in military families move six to nine times between kindergarten and high school, and a Sesame Street-themed mobile app launched in December can help them cope with leaving a familiar place for the unknown. Story

Military Kids View Muppets Movie at White House

First Lady Michelle Obama hosted military children and their families at the White House for a special screening of the Disney motion picture "Muppets Most Wanted," with an opening address by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. Story

Battaglia Honors Service Members, Families for Adaptability

The military's top enlisted leader praised service members and their families at Joint Base Langley–Eustis, Va., for their professionalism, flexibility and tenacity during a time of impending change for the Defense Department. Story

Report: Some Military Consumers Not Seeing Earned Protections

Service members, veterans and their families who complained to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about financial products or services have recovered more than $1 million, but some military families are not receiving the added consumer protections they have earned. Story

USDA, U.S. Special Operations Support Military Families

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Special Operations Command have agreed to increase support services for military families in areas such as personal financial management, health and nutrition, child care and youth empowerment. Story

Vice President's Wife Urges Support for Military Families

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, joined former president George W. Bush at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas to discuss ways to support transitioning service members and their families. Story

DOD Focuses on Healthy, Active Lifestyle for Kids

With the national rate of childhood obesity increasing, the Defense Department wants to ensure children in military families lead healthy and active lifestyles, the Defense Department's director of the office of family policy and children and youth said. Story

Sesame Street Book Teaches Kids Resilience

The Defense Department and Sesame Street have unveiled a book and DVD to develop resilience in young children. Story

President, First Lady Salute Troops, Vets, Families

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wished all Americans a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and provided special holiday greetings and thanks to U.S. military members, veterans, and their families for their service and sacrifice to the nation. Story

First Lady Answers Children's Queries on Santa's Location

First Lady Michelle Obama took phone calls from boys and girls from across the country asking where Santa was located as part of the annual NORAD Tracks Santa program run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. Story

First Lady Lauds Families For Toys Drive

First Lady Michelle Obama lent a hand to the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots campaign and saluted military families at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C. Story

All States Allow ID Cards to Eligible Military Spouses

All eligible service members, dependents and retirees -- including same-sex couples -- are now able to obtain Defense Department identification cards in every state, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said. Story

Military Families Preview Holiday Decorations

First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a group of military spouses and children during a preview tour of this year's festive Christmas holiday decorations adorning the rooms of the White House. Story

Reserve Components' Yellow Ribbon Program Remains Vital

A program that has helped ease the post-deployment process for thousands of Guard and reserve members and their families will remain vital even after combat operations wind down in Afghanistan. Story

November Honors Military Families' Sacrifices, Contributions

Service members' families also serve the nation and are the force behind the total force, a senior Defense Department official said. Story

Blue Star Guide to Deployment Helps Families

A free handbook by Blue Star Families and Vulcan Productions is available to help service members' families and friends better understand what to expect from the deployment process and how to cope with the emotional aspects of deployments and reintegration. Story | Handbook

Top NCO: Strong Families Key to Military's Strength

Healthy military families are essential to guaranteeing the health of the overall force, Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Lisa, told Military Family Summit attendees at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus, Ga. Story

More Corporations Join Military Spouse Employment Partnership

In a show of commitment and support to those who serve alongside uniformed service members, 60 new corporations joined the Military Spouse Employment Partnership in an induction ceremony. Story

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Urges States to Give IDs to Same-sex Spouses

Thumbnail: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivers the keynote speech at the centennial dinner of the Anti-Defamation League in New York, Oct. 31, 2013. Hagel said he directed the National Guard Bureau to work with nine states refusing to issue ID cards to same-sex spouses serving in the National Guard. He also announced Israel will buy six V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for its air force. Later Hagel helped present an award to former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta for his dedication to equal rights. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed the chief of the National Guard Bureau to meet with the adjutants general of nine states to resolve the issue of those states denying ID cards to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities. Story

Dr. Biden, USO Provide Warrior Care Packs

Thumbnail: Dr. Jill Biden, center, loads warrior care packs with Senate spouses, USO volunteers and White House interns at the vice president's home in Washington, D.C., Oct. 29, 2013. DOD photo by Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden participated in a USO event to put together and deliver warrior care packs to troops recovering from illness or injury. Story

Military Parenting Website Assists Communication

Thumbnail: Air Force Staff Sgt. Sabrina Siegele and her husband, Air Force Senior Airman Matt Siegele, enjoy time after work with their daughter, Stephanie, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The Siegeles say they like the age-appropriate scenarios of the new MilitaryParenting.org website. DOD photo.

Service members who deploy or are otherwise separated from their families due to mission needs now have an online resource allowing them to hone their parenting skills as they reconnect with their children. Story

Winnefeld Helps Open Wounded Warrior Retreat

The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has presided over the grand opening of Boulder Crest Retreat for seriously wounded service members, veterans and their families. Story

Facilities Gear up to Issue IDs to Same-sex Spouses

DOD facilities are gearing up to issue identification cards to same-sex spouses beginning Sept. 3, Pentagon officials said. The Supreme Court decision to overturn portions of the Defense of Marriage Act made it possible for the department to recognize same-sex marriages. Story

Official Advises on Importance of STEM Careers

Clarence A. Johnson, DOD's director of diversity management and equal opportunity, spoke about the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers at the Patriots Technical Training Center and YMCA "Thingamajig Convention" held in Upper Marlboro, Md. Story

Hagel Calls DOD Education Support a Priority

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has called the Defense Department's commitment to military families and to quality education for military children a strategic imperative that will continue. Story

Official: Family Resources Must Connect With Communities

Getting community educators and care providers to understand the needs of military children is crucial, a Defense Department official said at the Military Child Education Coalition's 15th National Training Seminar. Story

Dempseys Emphasize Importance of Supporting Military Children

Military children are a great strength of the armed forces, the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff said at the kickoff of the Military Child Education Coalition's 15th National Training Seminar, attended by teachers, school liaisons, program directors and other professionals. Story

DOD Helps Military Families Avoid Money Scams

Defense Department officials have measures to protect the military community from financial scam artists, said Barbara Thompson, director of the Defense Department's office of family policy, children and youth. Story

Vice President Meets With Fallen Warriors' Children

Vice President Joe Biden visited with more than 40 children participating in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton in California. Story

Troops, Families Can Visit Museums Free for Summer

Service members and their families will get free admission to more than 2,000 museums nationwide this summer. Story

President Issues Military Spouse Day Proclamation

President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation declaring May 10 as Military Spouse Appreciation Day Story

Wife of Air Guardsman Selected as Military Spouse of 2013

The wife of an Air National Guardsman who created support groups for military families and businesses has been selected as the 2013 Military Spouse of the Year. Story

Jill Biden Praises Sacrifices of Military Families

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, told a gathering of military wives that the deployment of her son Beau to Iraq in 2008 made her realize the sacrifices military families repeatedly endure, a hardship she said most Americans will never know. Story

Department Backs Military Spouse Training, Careers

The Defense Department is committed to helping military spouses find jobs and offers resources for education, training and networking, said Meg O'Grady, the department's spouse employment and career opportunities program manager. Story

Dempsey Lauds Honorees at Military Child of the Year Gala

Compassion, faith and patriotism earned five youths, each representing a service branch, acclaim from senior leaders during the 5th Annual Military Child of the Year Awards Gala at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Pentagon City. Story

DOD Program Works to Help Military Parents

With April designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Defense Department is highlighting its commitment to preventing child abuse and neglect among military families, especially through the Family Advocacy Program, and providing those who need it with counseling. Story

Efforts Continue for Spouse License Portability

Defense Department officials recognize that an unemployed spouse can affect a service member's retention an initiative for states to allow spouses' professional licenses to transfer from other states. Story

Dr. Biden Urges Governors to Help Military Spouses

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, today urged the nation's governors to get behind the effort to allow military spouses to transfer professional licenses from state to state. Story

Military OneSource Connects
Troops, Families to Resources

As the Information Age continues to shape modern communication, the Defense Department has revitalized and consolidated the Military OneSource website to better serve military members and their families, a Pentagon official said in a recent interview. Story

Hero Summit Panel Encourages Support for Families

A panel of military family members joined journalists, civil servants and decorated service members at the inaugural Hero Summit in Washington, D.C., to discuss the challenges of being a military family member and the ways that American citizens can support them. Story

President Proclaims November
2012 as Military Family Month

President Barack Obama praised military families in a proclamation declaring November as Military Family Month, noting that behind each service member "stands a parent, a sibling, a child, a spouse -- proud family members who share the weight of deployment and make profound sacrifices on behalf of our country." Story

Biden, Odierno Announce Education
Milestone for Military Kids

More than 100 colleges and universities have signed on to a White House initiative to prepare educators for the unique needs of their military-connected students, said Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, during a "Joining Forces" event in Fairfax, Va. Story

Grants Expand Military Children's
Educational Opportunities

Department of Defense Education Activity Director Marilee Fitzgerald urged recipients of the 2012 educational grant program to push the envelope in developing programs that ultimately will benefit all military schoolchildren. Story

DOD Receives Military Family Support Award

The Defense Department has been honored by a nonprofit organization for its collaboration with Congress in creating programs to support military families. Story

Social Workers Join Movement to
Support Military Families

The nation's social workers have signed on to help service members, veterans and their families in a broad effort as part of the White House's "Joining Forces" campaign, Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, announced at the National Association of Social Workers' annual convention. Story

National Park Service Offers Military,
Families Free Annual Pass

The National Park Service extends free annual park passes far beyond the droves of Pentagon employees who lined up to take advantage of the offer. Story

DOD Marks Growth in Employment Program

Service members and their spouses joined Defense Department leaders during a ceremony at the Pentagon to mark the success of a spouse employment program intended to help military families and the economy. Story

Service Members, Families, Get Free Pass to Parks

Service members and their families will be able to enter all of America's national parks free of charge for a year thanks to a Joining Forces initiative that will take effect beginning on Armed Services Day, May 19. Story

Biden, Winnefeld Attend Military Child Support Event

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, joined the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Newport News, Va., today to highlight efforts to help school children from military families.Story

Military Kids Make Parents' Service Possible

First Lady Michelle Obama highlighted the shared sacrifices of military children while meeting with the teenage daughters of service members in Jacksonville, Fla. Story

First Lady, Dr. Biden Mark Anniversary of
Joining Forces Campaign to Help Troops

Thumbnail: First Lady Michelle Obama marks the first anniversary of the 'Joining Forces' campaign with an event including defense leaders, troops, military families and veterans at the White House, April 11, 2012. The First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched the campaign last April to rally national support from all sectors of society to honor and support service members, veterans and their families. DOD photo by Linda Hosek

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, marked the one-year anniversary of the Joining Forces campaign by celebrating the individuals and organizations that have stepped up in "extraordinary ways" to improve military families' lives. Story

First Lady Lauds Military Families on 'Colbert Report'

The nation has been stepping up in "amazing ways" to support military families over the past year, First Lady Michelle Obama told the audience of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report". Story

Community Pledges Support for Troops, Families

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden today announced a major pledge by the nation's nursing community to better understand the unique health needs of service members, veterans, and their families, and to reach out to provide treatment wherever it is needed. Story

Dr. Biden, Mrs. Dempsey Salute 'Challenge' Winners

Thumbnail: Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, speaks about the value of military family support during a roundtable discussion at the Pentagon, April 10, 2012. The roundtable included Deanie Dempsey, wife of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, and honored the winners of the Joining Forces Community Challenge, which is an effort to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary military family support efforts of citizens and organizations across the country. DOD photo by Elaine Sanchez

Leading up to a White House celebration today, two of the nation's top wives personally thanked a group of individuals and organization leaders for their efforts to improve military families' lives at the Pentagon. Story

First Lady: Nation Must 'Step up' for Military Families

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, discuss the accomplishments of the Joining Forces campaign as its one-year anniversary approaches during an interview with American Forces Press Service in Washington, D.C., April 6, 2012. The first lady and Dr. Biden launched the campaign to rally national support from all sectors of society to honor and support service members, veterans and their families. DOD photo by Linda Hosek

As First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden mark the first anniversary of their "Joining Forces" campaign, the two say they will continue to solidify its successes so a structured effort to help military families is a permanent part of American culture. Story

White House Announces 'Joining Forces' Winners

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden announced the winners of the Joining Forces Community Challenge, an effort to recognize the efforts of citizens and organizations across the country that work to improve the lives of military families. Story

First Lady Lauds Minnesota's Military Family Support

First Lady Michelle Obama met with military families and support group leaders in Minnesota last week to "shine a spotlight" on the state's efforts to aid troops and their families. Story

Sesame Street, USO Launch Tour for Families

Thumbnail: Katie, Elmo's friend from a military family, is a special addition to the Sesame Street gang for a traveling show called "Sesame Street and USO Experience for Military Families." Elmo and friends help Katie open up about her fears and excitement about moving to a new location. USO photo by Fred Greaves

The Sesame Street and USO Experience for Military Families, a free traveling tour, will kick off April 7 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., and will visit military families on more than 70 installations over the next eight months. Story

Children Earn Top Honors for Service, Sacrifice

For their service and sacrifice, five military children have earned Operation Homefront's 2012 Military Child of the Year Award. Story

DOD Teacher Aims for National Honor

A Defense Department teacher's quest to bring lessons alive for her students from military families has landed her a spot as a finalist for 2012 National Teacher of the Year honors. Story

Panel Aims to Boost Support to Families

Military families with special-needs members would benefit from better communication and education, members of an exceptional family member panel concluded. Story

NHL Team Donates $100,000 to Help TAPS Families

The National Hockey League's Washington Capitals highlighted the club's ninth annual military appreciation night yesterday with a six-figure donation to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors program. Story

Mrs. Dempsey Urges Spouses to Share Stories

Deanie Dempsey, wife of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, urges a group of military spouses to share their

Military spouses have amazing stories that all Americans need to hear, the wife of the nation's top military officer said here March 3. "I want all of America to see what I see -- this is a group that can be an incredible source of good," Deanie Dempsey, wife of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, told a group of military spouses attending Military.com's 2012 Military Spouse Summit. Story

First Lady Urges Governors to Aid Spouse Employment

First Lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, urges the nation's governors to pass legislation to ease professional licensure procedures for military spouses during the National Governors Association meeting at the White House, Feb. 27, 2012. The first lady and Biden have set a goal for all 50 states to pass legislation to address spouses' licensing issues by 2014. DOD photo by Elaine Sanchez

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, today urged the nation's governors to remove employment barriers for military spouses with professional licenses. Story

TAPS Retreat Offers Comfort, Hope for Widows

Vicki Terrell looked out at the turquoise Gulf of Mexico, remembering happy days when she and her husband, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Paul Terrell, frolicked on their live-aboard powerboat and set anchor in the Florida Keys. Story

First Lady Unveiled Effort to Aid Spouse Employment

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, unveiled a new report today that spotlights military spouses' employment challenges and aims to remove barriers for the thousands of spouses with occupational licenses. Story

Report Intends to Ease Spouse Employment Barriers

Officials are hoping efforts to address military spouses' ongoing issues with obtaining occupational licenses after a move will help to remove career barriers and reduce an unemployment rate that's consistently higher than that of their civilian-life counterparts. Story

First Lady, Panetta to Unveil Employment Report

Alongside some of the nation's top officials, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, will unveil an employment report this week intended to ease military spouses' ongoing issues with occupational licenses, White House officials announced. Story

First Lady Lauds DOD's New Nutrition Campaign

The Defense Department's new obesity and nutrition awareness campaign sets a powerful example for the rest of the nation, First Lady Michelle Obama said during a health-conscious dining facility. Story

Compact Eases School Transitions for Children

Another state has joined an interstate agreement to ease school transitions for children from military families, bringing the overall tally of member states to 40, a Defense Department official announced yesterday. Story

First Lady, Dr. Biden Praise Joining Forces Finalists

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, have announced the 20 finalists that will compete for top honors in the Joining Forces Campaign's Community Challenge. Story

Military Families Take Care of Each Other

Caring about military families comes naturally to Deanie Dempsey, the wife of the nation's top military officer. She's been an Army spouse for nearly 36 years, and their three children have served in the Army. Story

Military Mom Cares for Triple Amputee Son

Saralee Trimble hunches over a craft table, meticulously weaving thin strips of material together to form a basket. Story

Support Center for Wounded Warriors, Families

The Warrior and Family Support Center on Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is a bustling "oasis" for wounded warriors and their families seeking emotional support and a respite from the rigors of recovery. Story

Wife Confronts Husband's Combat-related Rage

When her soldier husband was injured in Iraq, Catrina Tomsich gave up everything to be with him. She shut down her business, left a support network of friends and uprooted their 5-year-old son, Brayden, to move to help him recover. Story

Dr. Biden Writes Children's Book on Deployment

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, has written a children's book to raise awareness among Americans, particularly children, of military families' challenges during deployment. Story

DOD Website Connects Military Kids

A new Defense Department website offers military children around the world a chance to participate in an online community so they can learn how people their own age are coping with a parent's deployment. Story

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White House Blog

Helping Employers Connect to Job Seeking Service Members, Veterans and Their Families

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden joined the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell on Wednesday at a comprehensive Veterans Jobs Summit and Career Forum. Blog

Post-9/11 GI Bill Beneficiaries: Estimate Your Education Benefits

Three years ago this month, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces, a national initiative to support America's service members and military families – before, during and after deployment. Blog

First Lady Michelle Obama Helps NORAD Track Santa

Anxiously wondering when Santa and his sleigh full of toys might arrive in their neighborhood, children from around the country phoned NORAD today for Christmas Eve updates on his whereabouts. Blog

First Lady Michelle Obama Previews the 2013 White House Holiday Decor

First Lady Michelle Obama previewed the 2013 White House holiday décor to a crowd of military families who were the first of more than 70,000 anticipated visitors this holiday season. Blog

Dr. Jill Biden, Senate & Military Spouses Team Up to Assemble Care Packs for Wounded Warriors

Dr. Jill Biden welcomed Senate and military spouses to the Vice President's Residence to assemble more than 1,500 USO Warrior Care Packs for wounded, ill and injured troops. These special kits were filled with toiletry items most requested – and needed – by our healing heroes. Blog

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