Currently, in the United States, there are 2,129,777 military personnel and 2,582,001 family members, including spouses, children, and adult dependents (Department of Defense Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, 2020). Military family life is unique and is often accompanied by a variety of challenges that may include experiencing frequent relocations, living away from extended family, and enduring multiple periods of separation from the Service member. However, many organizations exist to help families navigate these challenges and provide support to lessen or alleviate stressors associated with military life. In honor of National Veterans and Military Families Month, the Thrive team of research professionals would like to offer our appreciation to service-connected families and highlight a few organizations that are available to help military families thrive.
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year, Military OneSource (MOS) serves as a gateway to information and referral for matters related to military life. The website is rich with information on topics such as moving, deployments, child care, spouse employment, and financial readiness. Active duty Service members and their families also have access to counselors who specialize in areas such as mental health, finances, and career development. In addition, families can connect with MOS via phone, live chat, and on the web.
Military Installation-Specific Services
Military installations worldwide offer a variety of in-person support to military families through robust installation and agency services and programming.
Military and Family Support Centers are staffed with professionals who are skilled in services that are related to military life. Center programming focuses on topics such as parenting, child well-being, financial readiness, and career development. These support centers are available at no cost to active duty families.
Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) services on installations connect military families to leisure and recreational services, amenities, and events. These may include fitness centers, family-friendly fun-runs and festivals, bowling alleys, and sight-seeing trips to local or regional attractions. MWR benefits are often available at little to no cost for military families.
Child and youth service agencies on military installations offer services such as child care, after-school programs, and youth sports and activities. These services provide safe and enriching environments where military-connected children can grow, play, and learn.
Many military installations offer additional support; however, services and agencies may vary by Service branch and location. Visit the website listed below to find installation locations, programs, or services that may be available.
Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) supports National Guard and Reserve members and their families by connecting them with resources throughout the deployment cycle. Through YRRP events, Service members and their families connect with local resources before, during, and after deployment and receive information about healthcare, education and training opportunities, financial resources, and legal benefits. Online programming is also available on topics that range from interview preparation to emergency preparedness.
Thrive Universal Parent Education Programs
Thrive offers developmentally age-appropriate, universal, parent-education programs in a web-based format that are designed to empower parents and caregivers as they nurture children from the prenatal period until 18 years of age. Each self-paced parent-education program delivers knowledge, skills, and strategies to bolster positive parenting practices, enhance stress management, and promote child physical health and well-being. Thrive parent-education programs are available online to military and civilian parents and caregivers at no cost.
Military Relief Organizations
When Service members and their families face serious financial hardships, military service relief organizations may be able to assist. These organizations offer help with interest-free loans, grants, or a combination of loans and grants. They can also provide financial preparedness counseling and tuition assistance. Visit the military relief organization websites, listed below, to learn about eligibility and how to apply for aid.
- Army Families – Army Emergency Relief
- Naval and Marine Corps Families – Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
- Air Force and Guardian Families – Air Force Aid Society
- Coast Guard Families – Coast Guard Mutual Assistance
- If a military family is not located near a relief organization, or if a need arises outside of office hours, local American Red Cross chapters may be able to process a request.
U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy. (2020). 2020 Demographics profile of the military community. https://download.militaryonesource.mil/12038/MOS/Reports/2020-demographics-report.pdf