By Dr. Chad Audi
President Obama has pledged increased support for the families of U.S. military members. Earlier this week, the president released a detailed report outlining fifty specific commitments that address a variety of issues ranging from homelessness to mental health to spousal employment. It is a government-wide effort involving all cabinet agencies.
It’s great to see President Obama take an unprecedented and sweeping approach to improving the quality of life for military families. Sadly, we know that too many U.S. service members fall into hard times when they return home from serving our country. In fact, the president stressed that perhaps one of the most important commitments is to end homelessness among veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates 107,000 veterans are homeless in this country on any given night.
Here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we have a special program to help homeless veterans find housing, address health issues, treat substance abuse addiction, advance their education, and learn job skills. Counseling is a key component for the veterans who come to DRMM, along with follow-up services to help them successfully overcome any obstacles to independence and stability.
The president’s plan also places a heavy emphasis on counseling for military families who are more vulnerable to stress when a parent is deployed. The U.S. Department of Defense notes that more than two million service members have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. The White House report details a marked increase in behavioral health issues among the young children of military parents.
The White House report is titled, “Strengthening our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment.” That indeed is an appropriate title. Our country should be committed to taking care of U.S. service members’ families, while they put their lives on the line defending our nation. And that far-reaching support must continue for the troops themselves when they come home.