Today, on Thursday, June 14, 2012, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Military Family Caucus (CMFC), hosted a Military Family Summit at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center near Fort Benning, Georgia.
Today's summit connected military families with Members of Congress, officials from the Department of Defense, personnel from the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and various military and veteran support organizations to discuss pressing issues impacting America's service members and their families.
Military spouses, veterans, councilors, educators, and advocates voiced their concerns with homelessness in the veteran community, individual battles with PTSD, loss of employment due to relocation, and sacrifices stemming from the redeployment of loved ones. Members of the panels shared their own experiences as well as provided local and online resources available to those in need.
After sharing his own personal struggles living in a military family, Congressman Bishop commented, "I mention my wife and her family's experiences because often we tend to focus primarily on the service members who willingly put themselves in harm's way to protect the freedoms we cherish. However, we cannot forget that the families they leave behind sacrifice just as much as our heroes who deploy on missions for our country."
"As Co-Chairs of the Military Family Caucus, we recognize that when a service member joins the military, it's not just a job; it's a family commitment to our country," said McMorris Rodgers during her opening remarks. "As the wife of a retired Navy pilot, I've come to better appreciate the unique challenges our military families face and I'm committed to doing all we can in Congress to address them."
Keynote speakers included Mrs. Patricia Shinseki of the White House Joining Forces Initiative; Secretary Robert L. Gordon, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy; and LTG Michael Ferriter, the Commander of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command and Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management. Representatives from the Wounded Warrior Project, Blue Star Families, the Military Child Education Coalition, and many other service groups also participated.
The CMFC is a bipartisan congressional caucus that educates elected officials, congressional staffers, senior military leaders and the public on a wide range of unique issues that affect military families. Currently, over 80 Democrats and Republicans are members of the CMFC.
In his opening remarks, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. praised our nation's veterans and military families.