In July 2022, the Military Family Advisory Network brought together our expansive network of advisors, military family members, private partners, military and veteran service organizations, and leaders across the Armed Forces, Congress, and White House for our Solutions Summit. This two-day event created an open dialogue for diverse groups to come together to develop solutions to recurring and emerging topics that impact today’s military-connected families.
MFAN’s Solutions Summit, presented by CVS Health, was hosted in Washington, D.C. immediately following our 2021 Military Family Support Programming Survey data release. MFAN’s research findings guided facilitated track discussions around the following topics:
- Telehealth and Health Care
- Family Well-being
- Food Insecurity
Over the last year, MFAN and our partners have followed the road map laid out during the summit. Here is a glimpse at the progress we’ve made together.
Part I: Executive Summary & Summit Report
Key themes, recommendations, and next steps derived from facilitated track discussions.
Part II: Appendix – Workgroup Reports
Raw material from each facilitated track discussion identifying the current landscape of issues and providing recommended solutions to long-standing and new challenges recognize…
This working group focused on service members and families transitioning out of the military. Knowing this can be a time of acute vulnerability, they highlighted areas of concern like finding a job, navigating education opportunities, limited resources for the entire family, and mental health challenges.
From this collaboration, the group pivoted their focus to expand on the resources provided to those going through this change. Recommendations included: higher education preparation, planning for the financial impact of transition, and professional development opportunities. MFAN has continued to highlight transition support resources through our Transition Tales blog series.
telehealth and health care
As healthcare has seen an increase in virtual options in recent years, the group began by evaluating existing programs and resources. The group noted hurdles to care like technology gap between locations and generations, challenges is accessing timely appointments, navigating benefits, and lapses in care through moving.
Recommendations for improvement included increased telehealth options, more educational opportunities to teach families how to navigate online systems, and addressing continuity of care. MFAN is continuing to amplify these ideas by working with healthcare providers to improve the support to military families, through key partnerships with groups like CVS Health, and conducting research on telehealth.
MFAN data uncovered emerging pain points for military and veteran family well-being. This group acknowledged the lack of support for all members within a family, the loneliness that can come along from moves, and differences that set you apart from peers both between military and civilian sector and between different branches of service.
Attacking this issue from a holistic approach, the group recognized the importance of increasing support systems for the whole family, continuing research on family well-being, making it easier for families to access resources, and ensuring families feel connected to their local communities. MFAN is continuing to develop programs, share resources, and collaborate with partners to ensure that every member of a military family is connected to the support needed to thrive.
MFAN’s years of studying military and veteran family food insecurity have helped identify common themes and barriers that prohibit families from accessing adequate and nutritious food.
Understanding there are many opportunities to increase resources, the group seeks to eliminate the stigma surrounding food insecurity, increasing awareness of existing resources, and continue to elevate the issue to government officials and military leadership who can help create programs and enact lasting change. MFAN has connected families with community resources, presented research at national conferences, represented the military community at the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Health, & Nutrition, and continued to convene our Military Family Food Insecurity Coalition and Combat Military Hunger Task Force to develop long-term solutions.
Looking at the challenges that have escalated in recent years like increased costs of living, moving expenses, housing conditions, and limited base availability, this focus group discussed tangible ways to address these concerns.
Many agreed that the priority should be encouraging the increase of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) — citing inflation, more competition, and rising interest rates. From there, the group wants to see timely reimbursement for moving expenses, increased education of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative’s Tenant Bill of Rights, improving maintenance responsiveness, and holding housing companies accountable. MFAN has focused our efforts on educating elected officials on the importance of restoring BAH, sharing our research in public forums and expert panels, and creating content to help military families make the big decisions, like PCSing.
we’re not done
MFAN knows there’s work to do to ensure that all military-connected families can thrive. We have been working intently to increase the amount and efficiency of support, programs, and resources that are available. Here’s just a few of the many ways we’re taking action:
- Increasing awareness of these issues to government officials, armed forces leadership, fellow military and veteran service organizations, and private business who serve this community.
- Amplifying existing resources to help families overcome the challenges found within our research.
- Creating programs that will tackle pain points through a holistic approach.
- Serving as conveners – creating a safe and open space for collaboration for all those with the goal to support our nation’s service members, veterans, and their families.
We know we can do so much more together. We’re just getting started and we’re grateful to be a trusted resource for military families to rely on.
Want to help shape the future of support for military families? Our next survey launches October 2, 2023. Sign up for our emails to be among the first to share your story.