Life in the military is stressful for both the enlisted person and his or her family members. This unique lifestyle presents its own specific set of obstacles and challenges that are vastly different from those typically faced by civilians. Members of military families may be separated from one another, or they may move to strange lands where they don’t understand the spoken language or cultural traditions. They may also encounter a loved one’s service-connected injury, disability, or death. Fortunately, there are a multitude of resources designed to support military families in all of these situations. By utilizing these resources, military families may enjoy a fuller and more successful life, both during active duty and after retirement.
When a member of the armed forces is deployed, his or her family can obtain general support from a Military Family Assistance Center. Military families can seek help from any military facility, regardless of which branch of the military their loved one is serving in. Family Assistance Centers provide general information about most of the support services available to military families. They also provide families with access to government forms, as well as assistance in completing and submitting them. For military families who do not live near an assistance center, many of the same services are also available via email and telephone.
Child Welfare Information Gateway: Supporting Military Families
Military Family Centers
Army National Guard Family Resources
While serving in the military, the serviceperson receives military pay based on his position. He or she will also receive healthcare for his or her entire family, as well as a housing allowance. The amount of the housing allowance depends on the size of the family, the cost of living in the area, and the serviceperson’s pay grade. In addition, members of the military have access to several financial assistance programs sponsored by the government. Through these programs, members of the military and their families may be eligible for financial aid for higher education or a VA home loan. For members of the military who are injured while serving, the VA offers Veterans’ Disability Compensation. For members of the military who retire, become disabled, and have a limited income, the VA offers Veterans’ Disability Pensions. The qualifications for each of these programs vary.
Emotional and Mental Health Resources
Members of the military and their families typically undergo more stress and anxiety than most members of the general public. To lessen this stress, the Department of Defense has developed several counseling programs and made them available to military personnel and their families. Most military families also enjoy excellent health coverage that allows them to seek medical attention for emotional or mental health problems if it becomes necessary. Finally, for families of service members who have recently returned from combat, the military offers Operation Enduring Families, which is a 5-session support and education program designed to help military personnel and their families cope with the effects of combat stress.
Resources for Children
The military offers several programs to assist military families in caring for their children. For example, the military’s Child Development Centers provide quality childcare services for children of military families who meet certain qualifications. For children old enough to attend school, the Department of Defense sponsors exclusive Education Activity schools with comprehensive curriculums that rival the majority of civilian schools available in the United States. For children who choose to attend civilian schools instead, military School Liaison Offices are available to help them adapt to new schools during relocations. For children who are ready to attend college, the Department of Defense offers counseling services and assistance in obtaining financial aid. There are also several scholarships that are available only to the children of military personnel.