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Family Matters Blog: Families Take Center Stage at Guard Workshop

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2010 – Families have been the focus this week at the 2010 National Guard Volunteer Workshop in New Orleans.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Sheila Casey and her husband, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. talk with attendees at the 2010 National Guard Family Program Volunteer Workshop in New Orleans, Aug. 3, 2010. Mrs. Casey emphasized military spouses taking care of themselves as well as their loved ones. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
  

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

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was at the workshop Monday, and spoke about the challenges facing military families. I highlighted the thoughts he shared on those issues in my blog, "Mullen Addresses Military Family Challenges."

I wanted to share what other leaders had to say at the workshop as well.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. "Bud" Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard, said the Guard's family readiness groups need to receive the same support as National Guard members deploying overseas.

"If we allow these rotations and what we do to become common, accepted and routine, then we need to give the families the focus that we should and that they deserve," Wyatt said in an interview with Army Sgt. Darron Salzer that was published in the article, "Guard Leaders Urge Family Readiness Support."

Wyatt also commented on the economy's impact on family programs.

"Your immediate response is [to ask] why anyone would cut back on the most important part of combat readiness, but it's not easy," he said, adding that the services also are cutting back on equipment.

Army Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard, said the Army is looking at the programs available to the families of unmarried soldiers. "And I am confident that at the end of the process, the right support will go to the right people.

"For us here in the Army National Guard," he continued, "people are our No. 1 priority, and taking care of people is absolutely part of that process."

At a separate event, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and his wife, Sheila Casey, spent about two hours talking with volunteers who support National Guard families.

"It's not just the Guard families, it's the entire volunteer force," Casey said in an interview with Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill for the article, "Casey Shares Vision of National Guard's Future."

"We realized back in 2007 that we had to significantly increase what we were doing for all Army families because of what we were asking of them. We were asking of them far more than what our programs were delivering," Gen. Casey said.

As a result, spending on family programs doubled, and an Army covenant recommitted leadership to supporting active, Guard and Reserve families, Greenhill wrote.

The general's wife, Sheila Casey, focused on the importance of caring for caregivers.

"Part of the problem that caregivers have is that they don't take care of themselves," Mrs. Casey said. "Everybody else comes first. What I end up seeing is people who after extended deployments ... are burnt out and they're tired.

"What I ask them to do is to change that and to start putting themselves first, on top of the pile," she added. "If they do that, then they will have the strength and the wherewithal to take care of their families."

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

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