The DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable met with Mr. Alex Baird, Chief of Family Programs, at the National Guard Bureau to discuss military family issues. In particular, what we can do to help military families during multiple deployments. Mr. Baird was attending the National Volunteer Workshop in New Orleans where the National Guard was providing training and hearing from their military community volunteers.
The deployment impact on the children of military members has been studied by the RAND corporation. There is a great effect on military kids and the results of the study showed that kids that we engaged were better off! The National Guard is seeking to help keep families and kids engaged in the process and working with tools such as social media and volunteers to reach out!
One of the challenges Guard and Reserve families face is that their children do not have a support structure like the active duty on or near a post, base, station, etc. One of the biggest challenges is at school where the staff and teachers do not realize the child is facing a year without a parent and the resulting implications for emotions, study habits, workload, changes in behavior, etc. The National Guard as reached out to the Department of Education with information and a video to share with teachers during their training about military deployments. In addition, the Adjutant Generals at the state level are reaching the state superintendents of schools to highlight their concerns and involvement.
I asked about a recent concern that Our Military Kids, a non profit agency had their funding reduced from the National Guard for grants to families with deployed members. Since a member of MilitaryAvenue.com had used these grants for her family we were concerned that a helpful program was being discarded. Mr. Baird agreed that it was a great program and that Our Military Kids in fact were at the conference and National Guard funding was not a problem. The issue he saw was reduction in gift giving from individuals during these difficult economic times.
Mr. Baird saw the successes and best practices being shared among the military services and components as the best success story of their efforts. He said commanders were being trained, volunteers were involved and communications including social media were being better utilized to help the military families! A very interesting Roundtable. If you would like to read more on MilitaryAvenue about deployed military families please go to these Our Letters to You blogs:
Deployment Troubles of a 5 Year Old
Wordless Wednesday Deployment Family
Also two great articles today from Admiral Mullen concerning family issues:
Mullen Addresses Military Family Challenges
Mullen Family Support Vital to War Effort
If you would like to see more about Our Military Kids please go to:
http://www.ourmilitarykids.org/ or http://www.facebook.com/OurMilitaryKids
Finally the National Guard is involved with Social Media. For contact with them go to their website http://www.ng.mil/
Twitter http://twitter.com/TheNatlGuard On twitter use the hashmark #GuardFamily or #NationalGuard to search for information.
Thank you Mr Baird for your time with the Roundtable this afternoon! If you would like to listen to an audio or read a transcript please go to DoDLive!
Photo Credit: Mr. Alex Baird is the Chief of Family Programs, National Guard Bureau DoDLive