To confront the challenges facing our country's military families, a select group of public and private sector leaders, including an American Legion representative, met in Jacksonville, Fla., last month for an off-record discussion event that set out to find ways to make life easier for military families.
Andrew Tramontana, American Legion Assistant Director of DoD Outreach and Heroes to Hometowns program coordinator, joined representatives from DoD, VA, local government, Congress, and the Department of Labor and Education at White Oak Conference and Residency Center in northern Florida from Jan. 22-24. The group spent the weekend engaging in living room-style discussions, informal working groups and general plenary sessions. The goal was to develop a set of common priorities and critical steps to meet the needs of military families - and find ways to create new networks and partnerships to help reach those goals.
The meeting, which did not include media, was called because of the strain that has been put on military families throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has been ongoing for over eight years. Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama and other political figures have put an emphasis on assisting military families and ensuring that their unique needs are met. Heeding the call for assistance, the group at White Oak convened, recognizing that maintaining the stability of servicemembers' families is equally important to preserving national security.
"A very productive meeting was held last week with the White House to discuss the priority list recently distributed to the group who attended the White Oak event," Tramontana said. "The White Oak event brought together unique leaders in the field of care for military families. Trends and obstacles facing military families were discussed and resolutions were defined to overcome these obstacles."