How to Have a Healthy US Military – Invest in the Families Now
New research conducted jointly by Blue Star Families and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University suggests that today, only 40% of military family respondents would recommend military service to their children – a decline from 45% in 2015. Further, the same study highlights that the extent to which military families feel supported while serving, and throughout the transition from military to civilian life, is strongly and directly correlated to the likelihood of recommending military service to others.
Dr. J. Michael Haynie, Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation at Syracuse University and executive director and founder of the Institute for Veterans & Military Families at Syracuse University, will testify before the Senate Armed Service Committee today. Before beginning his academic career, he served for 14 years as an officer in the United States Air Force.
Dr. Haynie advocates for increased military family support, as he says the most reliable pipeline of future military service members will be the family members of those who currently serve.
Dr. Haynie says:
“Our military families play a central role in our nation’s defense – specifically with regard to the sustainment and viability of the nation’s all-volunteer force.
“The U.S. National Security Strategy emphasizes all of the nation’s resources as central to our national security, and explicitly identifies America’s support of wounded warriors, veterans, and military families as fundamental to our defense.
“Since the advent of the all-volunteer force, the pool of Americans who meet the minimum standards to volunteer has consistently declined, to a point where today it is estimated nearly three out of every four of the roughly 34 million 17- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. are ineligible to serve. Compounding this situation is the fact that only about one quarter of high-school graduates who might be otherwise eligible, can also pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test, which measures basic math, writing, and reading skills. There also needs to be a willingness to serve – particularly among the best and brightest of America’s youth.
“Today, given fewer Americans eligible for military service, and a declining number willing to volunteer, those both eligible and willing represent a treasured national resource.
“Importantly, throughout the now more than 15 years of sustained military conflict, the most reliable and robust pipeline of eligible and willing volunteers is represented by the daughters, sons, brothers, and sisters, of those who are now or have served in uniform. In other words, the health of our military families is inextricably linked to the future viability of the all-volunteer force. This is not speculation or conjecture, but fact demonstrated by research.
“Over the last five years, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University has engaged in a purposeful effort to inform and act on opportunities to advance in-service and post-service opportunities for service members, veterans, and military families. Over that period, more than 90,000 have benefited from educational, vocational, and business ownership programs offered by the IVMF and its partners.
“Investments positioned to care for and support our military families, to include a robust infrastructure supporting the transition of military families to civilian life, represents an investment in the nation’s future defense. Further, such investments are also morally and ethically right.”
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