Support of military families essential to military personnel readiness
February 2, 2021
PRC affiliate Daniel Perkins is featured in this story in Penn State News.
Supporting the well-being of military families is essential to ensuring the readiness of military personnel, according to a report co-authored by a Penn State faculty member which was recently cited in the National Defense Authorization Act.
Daniel Perkins, principal scientist at the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State and professor of Family and Youth Resiliency and Policy within the College of Agricultural Sciences, was a co-author of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s report on “Strengthening the Military Family Readiness System for a Changing American Society.”
The report is the result of a study funded by the Office of Military Community and Family Policy in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The study sought to discover what can be learned from the positive experiences of military families and the support provided by the DoD and service branches. The study also documented the challenges of military life, such as frequent moves, exposure to trauma, and economic and other stresses for both parents and their children.
By understanding both positive experiences and challenges military families experience, the researchers sought to understand how resilience can be fostered in military families and what is needed to strengthen their support system.
“Military family well-being is incredibly important to military readiness,” said Perkins. “Families provide support to service members while they serve, but challenges within the family can interfere with service members’ ability to focus on the mission as well as influence service members’ choice in continuing to serve.”
The report’s recommendations are influencing the National Defense Authorization Act, a series of federal laws that specify the annual budget and expenditures of the DoD. The report is being cited in the “Military Family Readiness and Dependents’ Education” section of the act.
The first recommendation is to establish definitions of “family well-being”, “family readiness”, and “family resilience” for use by the DoD. Moreover, a review of current programs, policies, services, resources and practices of the DoD for military families is a recommended action to be completed by the Secretary of Defense. Findings should be reported to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives, along with recommendations on how to improve programs, policies, services, resources, and practices for military families.
Perkins states, “The adoption of these recommendations from the National Defense Authorization Act is a clear move toward scientific, evidence-based policymaking. Acting on these recommendations will ensure a stronger and more robust support system for military families and lead to a more ready and capable U.S. Military.”
The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness is an applied research center committed to advancing the health and well-being of service members and their families. The Clearinghouse, located within Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute. takes a solution-oriented approach that includes writing research reports, conducting applied research studies, building workforce expertise through training and resource provision, implementing and evaluating evidence-informed programs and practices, and delivering objective data and policy-relevant findings so that decisions are based on the best science and evidence available.