Can Pentagon Do More to Help Transitioning Families?


If you've had military transition on your mind lately like so many of us, you may have started to pay attention to just what the military offers families as they look to rejoin military life.

The answer? Nothing special. Instead, the Defense Department is now spinning some of their longtime support offerings as transition help.

You can read my story about career support as a transition tool over here on Military.com.

And some of that re-branding is great. Yes, many of the things they already offer can be helpful as you get out, too. If you thought a financial literacy class was important for while you are in the service, consider how necessary that stuff is when you don't have a for sure paycheck on the first and fifteenth of every month? Non-medical counseling, childcare and a battery of other classes and services all apply to making it in the civilian life as well as in the military life.

Still, some advocates are wondering if there isn't more DoD officials could be doing that is specific to the NEW challenges spouses will face when they go back into the real world.

For example, says Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association, how many of you have any idea how to navigate the rules, subsides and gotchas surrounding the new health care law? As military members we didn't worry about it because Tricare had our backs and wasn't changing. But if you get out ...

"Who is telling them that? The healthcare world has changed but who is telling them that?" Raezer said.

Another way the Pentagon could help military families is by providing a way for military spouses to attend the transition specific classes with their servicemember. Right now spouses are invited to attend, in some cases only if space is available. But most, if not all, bases do not offer childcare during the class to make it easier to attend.

(Edit: DoD officials say that even if spouses can't attend the transition class, they can view the complete curriculum online here. Note: you have to log in with a CAC card, government issued email address or request a log in via email).

"They should be opening them up, they should be providing childcare. They should be having the conversations on family budgeting with the family and not just the servicemember," Raezer said. "They should be doing more to involve families in the transition planning."

We know military families are worried about being forced out of the military and facing transition unprepared. In a recent SpouseBuzz poll over 50 percent of respondents said they weren't planning to get out of the military but are worried that they may be soon forced to do so. In a separate poll 50 percent of respondents said they know they can attend their servicemember's transition briefings, but don't know about any transition help that is specifically aimed at them.

If you were making the decisions, what services and information would you offer transitioning spouses and families?

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