Uncle Sam wants you ... to reach out to help America's military families
Joining Forces, a new White House campaign launched Tuesday, endeavors to raise Americans' awareness of the needs of troops, veterans, and military families.
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The White House is reaching out to local parent-teacher associations, to encourage them to help smooth the transition of military children.Skip to next paragraph
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Homelessness continues to plague veterans, as well. About one-third of the adult homeless population are veterans, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. The Veterans Administration estimates that 107,000 veterans nationwide are homeless on any given night. While only 8 percent of the US population are veterans, veterans make up 20 percent of the homeless population, according to the coalition.
Much of the stress placed on troops and their families is the result of the rapid pace of deployments in the 10 years since the war in Afghanistan began, say military officials. Of the 2.2 million US troops who have deployed during that time, some 800,000 have served multiple tours, including 25 percent who have gone to war three or more times, notes the CNAS report.
These deployments create stress and financial strain for spouses as well, who often have a more difficult time holding down jobs because of the frequent moves among military families and the need to care for children while another spouse is fighting a war.
The Joining Forces initiative will bring in businesses including Sears, Kmart, and Sam’s Club, which have agreed that when troops move to a new duty station, they will endeavor to have jobs waiting for military spouses.
“Certainly employment is a huge issue – not only for our veterans who have come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, but also for the military spouses who are so important for the financial well-being of the family,” says Jim Knotts, president and CEO of Operation Homefront, an aid organization for military families.
The financial stress on military families exists side by side with the nation’s economic woes. There has been a “greater than 100 percent increase in requests for food assistance among military families in the past two years” at Operation Homefront, says Mr. Knotts. The organization offers cash grants primarily to junior and mid-grade enlisted soldiers for rent, car repairs, and utility payments.
While the White House initiative will be welcome help for military families, Knotts says, “The challenge is for everyone to do something – it can be as meaningful as making a contribution to a veterans’ organization to cutting grass for a neighbor whose spouse is deployed,” he adds. “It can be babysitting so that the mom who is that single parent during deployment can have a mental break.”