Supporting Military Families: Blumenthal & Gillibrand Introduce Legislation to Prioritize Military Family Readiness

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced legislation today to prioritize military family readiness. The Command Accountability for Military Family Readiness Act would ensure that relevant military commanders across the services are prepared and able to assist military family members within their units by mandating comprehensive training and requiring that military commanders be evaluated on their efforts to support military families in command climate assessments.

“Military family readiness is military readiness. This legislation makes sure that support for military families starts at the top,” Blumenthal said. “We owe an immense debt of gratitude to the military families who make sacrifices every day in service to our country – supporting their well-being is our responsibility, and absolutely fundamental to our national security.”

“Military families sacrifice so much to serve our country and we must ensure they have every resource possible to thrive under often difficult circumstances” said Gillibrand. “We know that military readiness goes beyond our servicemembers, it includes their families as well. This legislation will take important steps to equip commanders and hold them accountable for supporting these families on key issues like childcare, mental health, and more to keep our military strong.”

“Blue Star Families is deeply grateful to Senator Blumenthal and his colleagues for introducing this legislation on behalf of our military families,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO and co-founder of Blue Star Families. “These bills demonstrate Congress' willingness to listen to the stories that military families share through our annual Military Lifestyle Survey, to take concerns like childcare and quality of life issues seriously (insofar as they impact readiness, recruitment, and retention), and to act in a way that sets the conditions for military families to thrive. Thank you, Senators, for continuing to keep the well-being of military families top-of-mind during this difficult time!”

“The Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN) is honored to serve as a trusted voice of military families who share their experiences with us through scientific research. According to MFAN data, the full family’s experience is a top indicator for retention. And, childcare and access to mental health support—two key areas addressed in this legislation—are perennial issues that impact the overarching quality of life for military families,” said Shannon Razsadin, Executive Director of the Military Family Advisory Network. “Military families are looking for a level playing field and experiences that are as close to on par with civilian counterparts as possible. By working to reduce barriers, streamline experiences, and empower families we will make life easier for military families, who already sacrifice so much.”

Currently, not all military commanders receive comprehensive training on the services and programs available to military families. Commanders are also not evaluated on their ability to support military families or their efforts to do so. Recognizing that commanders should be equipped to support military families and held accountable for their ability to ensure military family readiness, this legislation would:

  • Require military services to identify which commanders should be responsible for military family readiness and evaluated based on their ability to fulfill this responsibility;
  • Require military services to provide appropriate commanders with training, guidance, and other necessary information to ensure that commanders are equipped to encourage and support military family readiness within their units;
  • Include questions pertaining to military family readiness in command climate assessments for relevant commanders; and
  • Include military spouses in command climate assessments to ensure that their perspective is represented as commanders are evaluated based on their ability to ensure military family readiness.

The Command Accountability for Military Family Readiness Act is one of a comprehensive set of policies Blumenthal has proposed to support the partners, children, and close relatives of servicemembers. Military families make immense sacrifices and confront unique challenges, including frequent moves, the stress of deployments, and the difficulty of caring for a loved one who has been injured. Family members provide servicemembers with an invaluable support system, and their well-being is essential to overall military readiness and our national security.