The Department of Defense today announced the release of its first family readiness strategic plan for Reserve forces entitled "National Guard & Reserve Family Readiness Strategic Plan: 2000-2005." The plan will provide the road map for offering greater support to National Guard and Reserve families as they weather the stresses of separations and long deployments, trends established during the post-Cold War 1990s. Also, it will ensure that Reserve component families are served adequately by military family care systems, networks and organizations.
"This is our blueprint for Reserve family readiness in the 21st century," said Charles L. Cragin, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. "The strategic plan will chart our course for the immediate future and lay out goals and performance measures to monitor and guide our preparations for enhanced family readiness within the Total Force."
The plan is a product of a "strategic partnership" forged last year between the principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Personnel Support, Families and Education, and the Office of Family Policy.
In September 1999, staff from the three DoD offices organized a conference of more than 60 key participants, including unit commanders and spouses, to develop the framework of the Reserve Family Readiness Strategic Plan. Conferees performed an exhaustive examination of every aspect of family readiness to ensure that all areas of support would be addressed in the final product. The program has four major goals:
To support overall mission readiness through Reserve component family readiness.
To develop family readiness programs and services that improve quality of life and accordingly support recruiting and retention.
To provide National Guard and Reserve members equitable and accessible benefits and entitlements.
To standardize family readiness programs ensuring that Reserve component families are integrated seamlessly into the Total Force, and that mission requirements for each service and Reserve component provide family support to the Total Force.
"Throughout the entire planning process, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen has insisted that we emphasize the direct link between family readiness and unit readiness," said Cragin. "He has long accepted the adage that we recruit the member, but retain the family."
Another result of the "strategic partnership" was the publication of a Guide to Reserve Family Member Benefits. This booklet focuses on family assistance and is designed to inform family members about military benefits and entitlements, including medical and dental benefits, commissary and exchange privileges, military pay and allowances, and reemployment rights. Recent legislative changes significantly enhance certain benefits-and the new booklet highlights those changes.
The Reserve family member benefits guide is being distributed to key family support organizations throughout the Total Force and is available on DefenseLink at http://www.defenselink.mil/ra/documents/family/benefits.pdf [link no longer available]
The National Guard & Reserve Family Readiness Strategic Plan: 2000-2005 is also available on DefenseLink at http://www.defenselink.mil/ra/documents/family/Stratpln.pdf
For more information, news representatives may call Lt. Col. Terry D. Jones, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs at (703) 695-3620. Department of Defense personnel, military officials and family members may call Col. James Scott, or Cmdr. Janet Donovan, at (703) 693-7490.