Friday, October 31st, 2014

The Obameter

Create a military families advisory board


"Consisting of experts and family representatives from each service, it would help identify and develop actionable policies to ease the burden on spouses and families. The board would provide an institutionalized conduit (presently missing) for the evolving concerns of military families to be brought to the attention of senior policymakers and the public."

Updates

Administration follows through on a panel with a different name, same mission

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to create a Military Families Advisory Board "consisting of experts and family representatives from each service." The board would "help identify and develop actionable policies to ease the burden on spouses and families. The board would provide an institutionalized conduit (presently missing) for the evolving concerns of military families to be brought to the attention of senior policymakers and the public."

We initially rated this promise Stalled because we were unable to find a board by that name in Internet and Nexis searches. But it turns out that a board with a similar mission -- ordered in a defense authorization bill signed by President George W. Bush -- was advanced by publication of a Federal Register notice submitted by Obama's Defense Department on April 29, 2010.

The mission of the panel, officially known as the Department of Defense Military Family Readiness Council, includes monitoring "requirements for the support of military family readiness by the Department of Defense" and evaluating and assessing "the effectiveness of (Defense Department) military family readiness programs and activities." Every year by Feb. 1, the council will be responsible to submit to the Defense Secretary and congressional oversight committees a report on military family readiness, including "an assessment of the adequacy and effectiveness of the military family readiness programs and activities of the Department of Defense ... in meeting the needs and requirements of military families."

In addition to seating representatives of each of the military services, the membership is to include "three individuals appointed by the Secretary of Defense from among representatives of military family organizations, including military family organizations that represent the regular and reserve components."

"While a group has not been stood up under the name ‘Military Family Advisory Board," we believe that the Military Family Readiness Council fills this bill," said Bailey Bernius, a spokeswoman for the National Military Family Association.

We rate this a Promise Kept.

Sources:

Federal Register, notice on the Department of Defense Military Family Readiness Council, April 29, 2010

Army Times, "Congress orders DoD to step up family readiness support," March 11, 2008

E-mail interview with Bailey Bernius, spokeswoman for the National Military Family Association, Jan. 13, 2011

E-mail interview with Stephanie Himel-Nelson, director of communications for Blue Star Families, Jan. 13, 2011

No evidence yet for military families advisory board

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to create a Military Families Advisory Board "consisting of experts and family representatives from each service." The board would "help identify and develop actionable policies to ease the burden on spouses and families. The board would provide an institutionalized conduit (presently missing) for the evolving concerns of military families to be brought to the attention of senior policymakers and the public."

Searches of Whitehouse.gov, Google and Nexis failed to turn up any tangible progress on this promise.
 
In an Army-issued press release from May 14, 2009, Toni DeLancey, an Army wife, wrote that military spouses like her "are inspired that President Obama has made it a priority to convene a military family advisory board" and are "looking forward to having a seat at the table." But the release gave no indication of how close to reality such a panel was.
 
In addition, on Oct. 30, 2009 -- when Obama issued a proclamation declaring November 2009 to be Military Family Month -- he made no mention of the proposed advisory board.
 
It's possible that the board is being put together beyond public scrutiny, but until we have tangible details, we'll rate this promise Stalled.

Sources:

The White House, Official proclamation of Military Family Month 2009 , Oct. 30, 2009
 
U.S. Army, "Commentary: Army Families Under Fire Deserve Thanks, Support" (news release), May 14, 2009, accessed via Nexis