On Friday, February 25 the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosted a conversation on Faith and community-based organizations supporting military and Veteran families. The purpose of the conversation was to identify best practices, and ways to support community and faith-based efforts on behalf of military families and Veterans. There are over 1.4 million active duty service members in our country, and over 22 million Veterans. Unfortunately there are millions who do not get the support they need. Community and faith-based organizations are pioneering a diversity of support efforts for military families, and they are often closest to those needing help in our communities.
Participants representing local and national nonprofit organizations and congregations, joined with representatives from DOD, Veteran’s Affairs, CNCS, and the First Lady’s office in a four-hour discussion. Over the course of the meeting, the participants identified ways that congregations, and faith and community-based groups are already supporting military families around the country. They also offered input on what kinds of tools and resources could help expand their efforts.
From the moment we got started to the end of the day, the participants were energetic and full of ideas about how to move efforts forward to support military and Veteran families. Participants shared a diversity of local and national models that link military families and Veterans to existing services and benefits. They reflected on the importance of recognizing the various signs of grief and grieving, and how military life affects children and families. They also spoke about the importance of recognizing the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The conversation was just the first step in identifying and expanding tools that can help local organizations and congregations that are already serving or interested in serving military families and Veterans in their community. If you are an organization interested in participating in the discussion or have ideas on what to include in the resource materials, please contact us at whpartnerships (at) who.eop.gov.
Joshua DuBois serves as Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Special Assistant to the President.