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Family Readiness: Education, information, advocacy, outreach

Sunday, March 01, 2015

AUSA’s Family Readiness Directorate is dedicated to providing Army families the assistance they need to help them manage the challenges of military life.

Through four pillars of support – education, information, advocacy, and outreach – AUSA Family Readiness provides a platform from which Army families can voice their issues and concerns.

We also serve as a vehicle to increase the resilient navigation of the military family life cycle.

In 2014, the AUSA Family Readiness Directorate focused heavily on connecting with Army families at the local level.

In April, AUSA Family Readiness partnered with Operation Homefront and co-sponsored our first ever military family town hall, a two hour event featuring the legislative teams of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), Association of the United States Navy (AUSN), the Air Force Association (AFA), and the National Military Family Association (NMFA).

This distinguished panel tackled the issues surrounding sequestration to an attentive audience in Newport News, Va.

All segments were recorded and can still be viewed on AUSA’s YouTube channel.

April was also the month we took our forums on the road and joined AUSA at the LANPAC symposium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

We presented a half day military family forum on spouse employment and financial readiness and were honored to have the support of Dr. Carol Brooks, spouse of Gen. Vince Brooks, commanding general, U.S. Army, Pacific (USARPAC) as our opening speaker.

In May we had the pleasure of co-hosting 100 Army moms at a Mother’s Day brunch sponsored and co-hosted by the new Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, the headquarters hotel for the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Over 400 Army family members joined us for a brunch the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

Featured speakers included Lt. Gen. Jerry Sinn, USA, Ret., AUSA’s vice president for finance and administration, as well as Cara G. LaPointe, PhD, commander, United States Navy, White House fellow, Office of the First Lady.

The highlight of the morning was a special message sent to all military moms and kids from Sesame Street’s Elmo.

Also in May we announced the members of AUSA’s inaugural Military Spouse Advisory Group.

These 11 ladies come from all ranks and components of the U.S Army and provide the staff of the Family Readiness Directorate guidance and perspective on future initiatives and programs.

They will serve a two-year term, and new members will be selected from the AUSA membership ranks in 2016.

Each year during AUSA’s Annual Meeting and Exposition the Military Family Forums showcase a series of topics focusing on current issues that impact Army families.

Last year was a banner year for us as we hosted approximately 1,600 on-site audience members and over 10,000 online viewers at Family Forums over the course of the three-day professional development event.

We began by hearing from Army senior leaders; Lt. Gen. David Halverson, commanding general, Installation Management Command and assistant chief of staff for installation management; Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, Army surgeon general and commanding general, Army Medical Command; Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, chief Army Reserve; and Maj. Gen. Judd Lyons, acting director of the Army National Guard.

We then focused on the military life cycle and the behavioral health and education needs of our military children.

All speakers and panelists were selected for their experience and expertise but two speakers stand out as having stolen the hearts of the audience members: Gary Sinise from the Gary Sinise Foundation and a spokesperson for Get Skills to Work, and Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, USA, Ret., director of Vets4Warriors.

A highlight of the Forums was the Town Hall with John McHugh, secretary of the Army; Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of Staff and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler, then sergeant major of the Army.

During the AUSA Annual Meeting, Lockheed Martin promoted a social media event in which the company agreed to donate $10 for every "selfie" photograph of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) posted on social media channels.

During the meeting, hundreds of attendees took photos and posted them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., with the hashtag #JLTVandme.

"We saw this as an excellent opportunity to partner with AUSA Family Readiness to raise money for this outstanding organization that supports our military families," said Scott Greene, vice president of Ground Vehicles at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

Adding, "It’s just another example of how we truly never forget who we’re working for."

The Family Readiness team looks forward to even more opportunities to engage with families in 2015.

Future plans include onsite military family forums at Joint Base Lewis McCord, Fort Bliss, and Fort Riley.

We plan to increase our social media presence by providing more online meetings and webinars, and we look forward to supporting Army family programs and initiatives.