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DoD Family Readiness Conference Starts Aug. 22

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2000 – Nearly 800 family program officials, commanders and military family members are scheduled to gather in Phoenix, Ariz., Aug. 22 to 24 for the DoD Family Readiness Conference.

Internationally syndicated columnist Heloise will be among the guest speakers. Others include personal finance expert Ric Edelman, Web community design specialist Amy Jo Kim, and personnel and government affairs marketing consultant Neil Howe.

Bernard Rostker, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Alphonso Maldon Jr., assistant defense secretary for force management policy, are among the DoD officials also slated to speak.

Victor Vasquez, assistant defense secretary for military community and family policy, said the conference is designed "to teach strategies for creating self-sustaining communities that provide effective family support in day- to-day living and in times of high perstempo and crisis, and to focus on building and preserving strong, self- reliant families."

Vasquez noted that the conference follows on the heels of the first Military Family Forum, hosted by Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and his wife, Janet Langhart Cohen, May 30 at the Pentagon. The Cohens also hosted a forum for senior enlisted advisers June 22 to discuss quality of life issues.

Cohen's interest in family readiness is based on its significant role in the military readiness equation," said Navy Cmdr. Rene Campos, a spokeswoman for the Office of Family Policy. The last conference of this magnitude was in 1992, she said.

The three-day conference is going to focus on three major themes: economic, community and family well being. Attendees will discuss building self-reliance among military families, establishing and maintaining economic well being and integrating delivery systems. Topics will include personal financial management, contingency assistance and building community partnerships.

Workshops to improve spouse employment assistance programs are slated to run concurrently with the main conference. The spouse employment summit is designed to help DoD and the services enhance military spouse careers, family income and retention of high quality military personnel.

Reserve component family readiness will be the focus of an Aug. 21 pre-conference meeting held by the National Guard. An all-Navy meeting is also scheduled Aug. 21 to give attendees a chance to ask questions of the Family Service Center headquarters staff.

For more information on the conference go to http://mfrc.calib.com/index.cfm.

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