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Top DoD Challenge: Spreading the Word

One of the top worries for officials rolling out President Obama’s new military family initiative is over how to spread the word, a Defense Department family official said today.

“While we have this wonderful opportunity for the federal government to get behind the military families, the military families need to know what is available to them,” said Barbara Thompson, director of DoD’s office of family policy and children and youth during a blogger’s roundtable. “We know that and it’s a great challenge.”

The problem of connecting families with the resources already out there is something we have talked about here before. Thompson indicated that DoD knows that creating more and better resources to support military families is useless if you cannot also can find a way to tell people they are out there.

At the moment, she said, information about the policy statement and announcement can be found on the White House website. Since the promised programs are through a variety of federal agencies, information can also be found on those websites. But so far there is not one central location to learn about what is offered, when it will be available or where it can be found.

Thompson said officials are looking to possibly put the information on a preexisting portal such as MIlitary One Source.

“The concept of having one website has been discussed,” she said. “It’s a question of how do we choose [between] those many websites.”

Thompson was also able to shed  some light on how the initiative is to be funded. The new programs, she said, will be sponsored by the individual federal agency running them. The initiative to expand and promote the access of military families to national parks, for example, must come out of its overseeing agency’s current budget.

Thompson also talked about the employment programs included in the report. She said these new and expanded programs, unlike previous initiatives like the infamous MyCAA, focus on connecting spouses with jobs — not giving them money for education.

“The idea is not so much the preparation for the job but actually having the employment opportunities available when they want to access them,” she said.

See our previous coverage on the new military family policy here and here. You can also read CinCHouse.com’s take here.

About Amy Bushatz

Amy is the managing editor of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is an Associate Editor. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on NPR and in the New York Times. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.