DOD official cites need for expanded family support networks

  • Published
  • By Elaine Sanchez
  • American Forces Press Service
The Defense Department is working to expand and integrate its network of military and civilian helping professionals to ensure military families receive the support and care they need for years to come, the DOD official who oversees family programs said here April 27.

"History has shown that by combining our resources, we can meet any challenge, in any circumstance. ... It's our greatest strength," said Robert L. Gordon III, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy.

Mr. Gordon touched on the importance of collaboration in military family support during his remarks to nearly 2,000 family-support specialists attending the opening session of the 2011 Family Resilience Conference, hosted by the Defense and Agriculture departments.

The joint conference is fitting, Mr. Gordon noted, since the Defense and Agriculture departments share a common goal of improving the health and well-being of "those we serve."

"Our coordinated efforts are important not only to our military families, but to all citizens in our local communities," he said.

Promoting the well-being of military families is more important now, in these "unprecedented, challenging times," than ever before, Mr. Gordon said.

"In the past few weeks alone, our military communities have experienced natural disasters -- earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, blizzards, floods and tornadoes," he said. "Add to this the nature of military living, current fiscal concerns and the everyday realities of life.

"I am absolutely confident that together we will support, serve and strengthen our military families," he continued, "not only to navigate the unique aspects of military life, but also to thrive in the wake of life's uncertainties."

Mr. Gordon said Americans can learn a great deal from military families.

In a recent blog post, he asked military spouses what they wanted potential employers to know about them and received this response: "We have a deep pride in being military spouses and being the support behind our service member. (With) every challenge that we face, we become better and stronger through it."

"How can we take that type of resilience and translate it for use by other vulnerable populations?" Mr. Gordon asked. "How can we capture, develop and advance the ability to overcome adversity and to thrive?"

These are just some of the questions the conference participants can address this week, he said, expressing his confidence in the potential results.

"The answers to the problems we face are in this room and in our communities," Mr. Gordon said.