Sylvia E. J. Kidd
Director, AUSA Family Programs
AUSA Family Programs is well on its way to finalizing the topics and presenters for the AUSA Military Family Forums at the 2010 Annual Meeting and Exposition.
The Annual Meeting will be held from Oct. 25 to 27 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington.
The overall theme is "America’s Army; Strength of the Nation," the theme of the Military Family Forums is "America’s Families; Strength of the Army."
Army leaders recognize the family forums as professional development seminars and support the attendance of their Family Readiness Group (FRG) leaders, Family Readiness Support Assistants (FRSA), volunteers and project managers.
Our military has many leaders who share a common goal of maintaining the strength of the Army by caring for soldiers and their families. Military Family Forum I, titled, "America’s Family; Our Leaders," will open with the recognition of the recipients of the AUSA Volunteer Family of the Year Award.
This award recognizes an exceptional Army family whose dedicated volunteer service significantly contributes to improving the well-being of Army families and the local community. Nominees are submitted by AUSA chapters. The award is sponsored by TriWest Healthcare Alliance.
The president and CEO of TriWest Healthcare Alliance, David J. McIntyre Jr. recently said, "We are honored to support AUSA in its recognition of military families, as far too often, they are America’s unsung heroes. TriWest is enthusiastic to support and honor the Volunteer Family of the Year, that is an example and representation of many Army families’ service."
TriWest Healthcare Alliance partners with the Department of Defense to do "whatever it takes" to support the healthcare needs of 2.7 million members of America’s military family. A Phoenix-based corporation, TriWest provides access to cost-effective, high-quality health care in the 21-state TRICARE West Region.
The Department of Defense recently presented TriWest with the 2009 national Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Freedom Award—the highest recognition given to employers for their support of their employees who also serve in the National Guard and Reserve. Visit www.triwest.com for more information.
This forum will also host presentations by Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh. Following his presentation, a "Hot Issues" panel will discuss topics such as Community Covenant developments, My Military Advancement Account (MYCAA), employment transition and other issues that are pressing for soldiers and family members.
Forum I will also feature Military to Medicine’s first annual Basic Health Care Skills Competition.
The competition – open to the extended military community, including military spouses, wounded warriors and their care givers, National Guard/Reserve service members and their spouses, as well as service members transitioning into civilian employment who are enrolled in Military to Medicine programs – is designed to develop skills relevant to jobs in the healthcare system.
The competition starts with six competing teams from Forts Stewart and Hood, Camp Pendleton, Joint Base Lewis,/McChord, Jacksonville and the DC area and then will be narrowed down to three finalists prior to the Annual Meeting.
The three finalists will travel to Washington, all expenses paid, to participate in the final competition at the completion of Forum I.
All finalists will receive CPR training kits for their installations valued in excess of $5,000.
Following the first elimination round, the remaining two teams will receive full instructor-level CPR trainer training valued at $500 per individual. Benefits include potential job placement and instructor positions for CPR certified instructors.
First prize, in addition to other prizes, will include individual team member CPR training kits valued at $2,000.
Through this competition, Military to Medicine combines health care training equipment and career opportunities to enhance the lives of military families.
With the surge of troops in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many families are experiencing long deployments and frequent separations from loved ones.
Military Family Forum II, titled "America’s Families – Our Children," will have a panel of speakers who have conducted research on the effects of deployment on children and adolescents.
This forum will open with comments from the chief of staff of the Army, Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
Often times when a soldier is fighting a war, his or her spouse is taking care of everything on the home front. In their efforts to meet everyone’s needs those left at home may well forget to take care of themselves.
Military Family Forum III titled, "Americas Family – Caring for Ourselves," reminds us that spouses left behind who assume the caregiver role for their family in the soldier’s absence or may become the soldier’s caregiver in case of injury must also remember to care for themselves. We often place our own needs on the back-burner and taking care of daily tasks and others becomes a more important and sometimes overwhelming mission.
Forum III will have several presentations on achieving and maintaining healthy relationships with spouses and children and learning how to calmly address conflict within the family.
In addition there will be a presentation on Stronger Families, a pilot program founded by Jeff Kemp and developed to teach leaders, individuals and couples how to strengthen their relationships and eventually help them become relationship champions who will make a difference in their communities and workplaces.
This program is a grassroots approach to facilitate a culture change around marriage using advocacy, resources and training.
A new addition this year will be Military Family Forum IV, titled "Americas Families – Caring for Our Survivors."
This forum will incorporate the Army’s annual Survivors Seminar and feature a panel of presenters speaking on legislative affairs, survivor advocacy and issues such as SBP/DIC offset. There will also be information pertaining to education/employment issues for spouses, children and parents and available scholarships such as the Frye scholarship for children.
Resiliency programs (behavioral health) for survivors will also be discussed and an update will be provided on Survivor Outreach Services (SOS) issues.
All forums will be open to AUSA Annual Meeting participants.
These are just a few of the highlights of our Military Family Forums. For more information, visit our Web site at www.ausa.org/family and select the "Annual Meeting Activities" link in the left navigation of the site.
You can also call at (800) 336-4570, Ext. 150 or 151, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.