Supporting and strengthening families is important AUSA work

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) was established in 1950 with the mission to assist America’s Army and support our soldiers in their commitment to protecting our nation’s freedom and security.

The AUSA Family Programs Directorate was established in 1999 with the mission: Focus on the needs of the Army family by providing information, resources, assistance and representation.

The Family Programs staff is dedicated to helping our families become better prepared to cope with and manage the many challenges of military life and to support them as the needs arise.

"Supporting" our soldiers and their families means many things and involves many people.

It means consideration for soldiers’ needs, both in the field and at home.

It means understanding their lives as warriors who are fighting for our nation while their husbands or wives, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters remain at home, often caring for the soldiers’ sons and daughters.

And, last but certainly not least, it also means helping to sustain soldiers’ families, especially if they are struggling or overwhelmed.

It has been said the strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.

AUSA Family Programs recognizes the strength and loyalty in our Army families, and we strive to uphold and enhance these attributes.

Our military families must stay strong and resilient while their loved ones serve as members of the world’s leading Army. They must feel empowered and encouraged.

We at AUSA Family Programs have an obligation to make every effort to help families feel this way by arming them with knowledge about the many resources and forms of assistance available to them and their soldiers.

We strongly believe that knowledgeable families are better able to handle the challenges and stresses of military life.

We reach out to families and help them remain informed on current issues and policy changes that affect their pay, their medical care and benefits through our weekly e-mail "Family Programs Update."

Family Programs also develops partnerships with other groups and organizations that support and promote the Army family.

We conduct educational forums featuring prominent Army and civilian leaders or community organizations offering pertinent information about studies, programs, legislation and benefits.

Most AUSA staff members have either served in the military or lived as a military family member – so we understand the challenges.

However, to ensure that AUSA Family Programs truly represents Army families, it is very important that we visit installations and meet with family members regularly so we fully comprehend their concerns that impact today’s Army families.

Schedules permitting, Family Programs staff members often travel, on request, to family-related events and provide special presentations dealing with current issues.

AUSA Family Programs also informs families through our Web site: http://www.ausa.org/family, and through the use of social media.

Please follow us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Association-of-United-States-Army-AUSA-Nat..., Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/AUSAFamPrgms, #AUSAFamPrgrm and Flickr at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ausafamprog/.

We have an abundance of information and resources for the military family such as news about Family Programs’ activities, AUSA chapter news, reading lists and book reviews, available publications and Internet resources.

Our weekly newsletter for military families, "The Family Programs Update," is also posted on our Web site for those who have not subscribed to receive it via e-mail.

AUSA members receive the "Update" without having to subscribe; however, non-members may also receive it by sending an e-mail to [email protected], and typing "subscribe" in the subject line.

AUSA’s Family Programs Directorate works closely with AUSA’s Government Affairs Directorate to address Army family issues through our legislative efforts.

We propose resolutions gathered during discussions and focus groups with family members, and we identify issues and concerns affecting military families that may require legislative attention.

The proposed resolutions are then forwarded for consideration by the AUSA National Resolutions Committee.

Our Association’s annual legislative goals booklet is published in January. It is also online at www.ausa.gov.

AUSA is a member of The Military Coalition and joins with 33 other member organizations to strengthen our advocacy efforts on legislation that affects our military and their families.

We are major sponsors of the Army Family Action Plan – a program that brings delegates from all over the Army and gives them the opportunity to participate in providing recommendations to solve issues that have come up to Department of the Army level from installations and units.

Our families have been dealing with the impact of deployments and separation for almost 10 years.

Many military children have lived with this family turmoil for their entire lives and we know there is a serious impact.

These are the kinds of issues we need to be aware of so we can better advocate for relevant programs for military families.

We also have sponsored Operation Give a Hug, an organization which has provided several hundred thousand dolls to children with deployed parents.

Children can insert their dads or moms picture into the face of the doll and feel like their dad or mom are with them and participating in their activities. These dolls have also been lauded by mental health professionals and proven to assist in helping children better cope with separation from a parent.

We support the Military Child Education Coalition, another non-profit organizations, that specialize in working on education issues affecting military children.