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USDA Partners with the Department of Defense and the Cooperative Extension Service to Develop Guides Focused on Supporting Military Families

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2013 – The family members of military members often face unique challenges during and after deployment. In an effort to involve entire communities in supporting these families, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) developed a series of publications with guidance for various audiences that assist and support members of the military, veterans and their families. The publications were developed in collaboration with the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University and the National Military Family Association. USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Catherine Woteki helped unveil these publications at an event in Washington today in support of April as “Month of the Military Child” and the 2-year anniversary of Joining Forces, the initiative to support military families launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

“It’s natural for USDA and DoD to partner together considering the disproportionate share of our military that comes from rural America,” Woteki said. “Our military families experience many unique challenges as they cope with a family member who is deployed and support from the entire community can go a long way in meeting their needs. These new publications are a valuable resource for people – from friends and family to local businesses – in helping our military families during and after a deployment.”

Since September 11, 2001, more than two million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. According to DoD’s 2011 Demographics Profile of Military Families, more than half (53.3 percent) of DoD military personnel are married, and 43.9 percent have children.  Multiple deployments, combat injuries, and the challenges of reintegration can have far-reaching effects on not only the troops and their families, but also upon America’s communities as well. These unique challenges can affect military readiness and family resilience. The new publications are geared to help communities come alongside and assist these families who have already given so much for the nation.

The series features 11 issues tailored to audiences such as medical professionals, faith-based communities, educators, employers, financial institutions, legal professionals, first responders, mental health professionals and families and friends. USDA’s National Institution of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is distributing the publications to Cooperative Extension offices across the nation. Cooperative Extension staff in each county will distribute materials to citizens through educational sessions and online. The publications are also available online from Military OneSource and eXtension.

NIFA partnered with DoD to produce the publications. For more than 30 years, NIFA, Land-Grant Universities, the Cooperative Extension System, the Department of Defense (DoD), and military service components have partnered to support service members and their families. These highly effective partnerships have enhanced the lives of thousands of military families and youth, both on and off installation, connecting them to quality support and educational programs to meet their unique needs. More information about these partnerships can be found on NIFA’s website.

In May 2010, the President directed the National Security Staff (NSS) to develop a coordinated federal government-wide approach to supporting military families. By harnessing resources and expertise across the federal government, the Obama Administration is improving the quality of military family life, helping communities more effectively support military families, and thereby improving the long-term effectiveness of U.S. military forces.

Through their Joining Forces initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden have issued a national challenge to all Americans to take action and find ways to support and engage our military families in their own communities. Joining Forces aims to educate, challenge and spark action from all sectors of our society – citizens, communities, businesses, non-profits, faith-based institutions, philanthropic organizations and government – to ensure military families have the support they deserve.  At JoiningForces.gov, Americans can find many ways to take action.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.

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