BSF Director of Development, Pamela Stokes-Eggleston recently participated in a Department of Defense briefing regarding mobilization of National Guard troops. Read the excerpt below from the remarks of General Craig McKinley, Chief of the National Guard Bureau for the Air Force:
Q Yes, Pamela Stokes Eggleston with Blue Star Families.
GEN. MCKINLEY: Hello.
Q What specific types of outreach are you focusing on with the military spouses and military families with regard to the current conflicts, the OIF and OEF.
GEN. MCKINLEY: Well, you raise probably the most important issue for me and for senior leadership in the Pentagon, is what do we do with the families, for the families? How do we support a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine, Coast Guardsman or member of the National Guard throughout their entire life, especially if they’re disabled or injured?
We believe that because we’re a state-based organization, that we have the support of the governors, and that our adjutants general and their state headquarters, their joint-force headquarters, have the responsibility to reintegrate Army National Guard and Air National Guard members back into their states after they’ve deployed.
We’ve pushed out a lot of resources. We’ve been very well supported by members on the Hill to have the kinds of reintegration team members, fully funded by Congress and by the Army and the Air Force so that they have that reception committee when they get home, to include psychological resources for people, without fear of having to have attribution, can go to these folks, can get referrals, and we can track these members throughout their career.
We don’t just depend on the VA, even though I know General Shinseki will do a lot to help our wounded warriors. But it’s really about command and leadership that will take these members through their careers and to watch their families. We really believe that our family program coordinators, of which there are full-time members in every one of our organizations, have really taken the mantle and are doing an excellent job with each unit formation, each wing. And they’re watching the families, caring for the families during deployments.
This has become something that is not a by-product anymore. This is not an afterthought. This is thought up right up front, and leadership is strongly advocating for it. And the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration, family support coordinators, psychological counseling — those things are all now built into our budget, into our system, and we care for our airmen and our soldiers from start to finish. We’re actually going to have a conference in July in Dearborn, Michigan, where we’ll have about 2,000 family support coordinators, volunteers and full-time members, who will come. We believe that Dr. Jill Biden will be our keynote speaker. Dr. Biden and Mrs. Obama have pledged their support to military families, and I can’t tell you how much that means to us, to show that support from the White House.
So — essential, critical. It means whether a member will stay or leave the service. You recruit the member. You retain the family. It’s a big deal for us.
So we hope we get it right, and if we don’t have it right, we’re here to learn from other organizations how to make it right.
Q Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thanks for your question. Thank you for being here.