Partnership Forum generates tangible ways for communities to support Soldiers and their Families
San Antonio, TX – May 5, 2011 – Over 100 individuals from the Northwest and North Central US gathered in San Antonio, Texas for the Army OneSource (AOS) Partnership Forum; what some are calling “a national model” for mobilizing communities to better support Soldiers and their Families. The main objective of the Army OneSource Partnership Forum is to generate comprehensive community support and service delivery for Soldiers and their Families regardless of component or geographic location. The Forum provided AOS Community Support Coordinators and their State Partners the opportunity to develop a Community Plan of Action, recognize local partnerships, their impact and ways to strengthen them, and discuss ideas and recommendations to mobilize others to join the efforts.
The event is in direct alignment with the national initiative called “Joining Forces,” announced in April by first lady Michelle Obama. The “Joining Forces” initiative is designed to energize the private sector to effectively reach out and support Military Families - the events of the AOS Partnership Forum are designed to do just that.
During the event, State Community Partners, supported by an Army OneSource Community Support Coordinator, split up by state and worked tirelessly for two days to develop a vision, specific goals and a plan of action to implement programs and services in their state for Soldiers and their Families. The plans of action are designed to address one of the four main focus areas that studies show are of greatest need among Soldiers, including behavioral health, finance, legal and faith-based.
When asked about the Forum, AOS Community Support Coordinator for Northern Illinois, LaKrisha Lindo, said, “The hard work and dedication that was revealed from the Partners representing the state of Illinois was nothing short of inspiring. Their commitment to our Service Members and Families is a model of dedication that should be emulated throughout the US. This is what it means to support our troops!”
State Community Partners, which include members from various private and public sector organizations, are selected to attend the Forum based on the work they are currently doing in their state to support Military Families. AOS believes that leveraging leaders, who are already affecting positive change in their communities, will serve as a catalyst to get new partners on board and expedite the creation and execution of exemplary programs and services for Soldiers.
Notes Army OneSource Community Support Coordinator from South Indiana and recently returned Veteran, Ethan Hughes, “The Partnership Forum events proved to be enlightening and energizing for the Partners from Indiana. They developed a plan of action to support our Soldiers and their Family Members that will make a positive, tangible difference in their everyday lives. The partners will become the seeds that grow into long lasting connections with our Indiana communities for a brighter future and spirit of togetherness for our Soldiers and Family Members.”
One such State Community Partner included Dr. Earl R. Beal, a retired Professor from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences and Mental Health Consultant in Grand Forks North Dakota. He states, “Having spent many years helping develop information and referral services for military and veteran populations, I was very gratified to see that Army OneSource is setting the standard for “partnership” in its truest sense… The Army OneSource Partnership Institute is the ideal forum to see and experience real interaction across many aspects of a given community. At the same time, by combining regions within each institute, we benefit from knowing the common expertise, interests and challenges which exist. Well done Army OneSource!!”
Mr. Beal and his fellow state partners set their sights on assisting practicing behavioral health professionals and communities in understanding Military lifestyle and the unique challenges facing Military members, Veterans, andtheir Families. They plan to do this by offering professional education programs and community training opportunities throughout their state.
At the conclusion of the work sessions, each state presented their plan of action to a five-person panel. The panel included: Sergeant Major Israel Talamantez, Acting Command Sergeant Major for the US Army Accessions Command; Barry D. Gasdek, Army Reserve Ambassador; Lynn L. McCollum, Director of Family Programs for the United States Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command; Charles Lowery, Acting Director of Military Saves; and Randy Hyde, LCSW, Program Manager, Methodist Healthcare Ministries. Each panel member has a vested interest in developing and sustaining community support for Soldiers and their Families and provided invaluable feedback to the State Community Partners to bolster the successful execution of their Plans.
The event closed with a send-off by Ms. Shaunya Murrill, Chief of Outreach and Strategic Integration Division within the US Army Family Programs Directorate. Her message was one of encouragement and support but above all a challenge for each participant and their state’s peers to do more. “Less than 1 percent of Americans serve in uniform today, but they bear 100 percent of the burden of defending our Nation,” explains Ms. Murrill. “I am asking you today to stay committed to building a coordinated approach that results in comprehensive support and on-going engagement with our military Families for years to come.”
State Community Partners from the entire country will convene for a National Partnership Forum on June 16th in Washington DC to present the results to date of their on-going efforts in the community to support Soldiers and their Families.
To learn more about the Army OneSource program, visit www.myarmyonesource.com.
About Army OneSource Army OneSource (AOS) is a Secretary of the Army Initiative to provide comprehensive community support and service delivery for Soldiers and their Families regardless of component or geographic location. Through Community Support Coordinators located throughout the US and Pacific, AOS is raising awareness and generating support among the private sector to effectively serve the unique challenges of Military life, including the growing demand for behavioral health, financial, legal and faith-based services. Utilizing traditional establishments on Military Installations, a Web-based portal, and local community partners, AOS is helping empower Soldiers and their Family Members to be strong, healthy and connected to the best resources wherever they may be. http://www.myarmyonesource.com