Military, spouse and community leaders gathered at the Association of the United States Army Military Family Forum, Oct. 8, 2018, to discuss the 16 key indicators regarding military family readiness.

Much of the focus touched upon the important contributions of military families and how each family's success directly impacts the readiness of the total Army force.

"I really believe that readiness starts at home," said Col. Deydre S. Teyhen, commander, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. "What we can see with the data from a healthcare perspective is that the families who aren't as strong have a lot more problems when the solider is deployed or downrange."

Teyhen told a story of her experience while deployed to Iraq. She explained that when a Soldier doesn't have a strong family back home, issues can develop in theater and during redeployment, which require a holistic approach to dig deeper into the issues to help the service member and family.

"Think about what happens when a soldier is downrange," said Teyhen. "If the family's health is a concern, whether physical, social, spiritual or emotional concern, that has an impact on the Soldier who is downrange who is trying to be focused on the mission at hand. A healthy family and a happy family create a more ready soldier who can focus on the mission."

Panelists discussed a multitude of community and health services available to military families. Many hit upon the importance for those in the audience to take the information back to their units.

The 16 key indicators of military family readiness are: physical health, mental health, social support, spouses' functioning, marital quality, severe family and marital distress, parenting and family functioning, military life experiences, service members deployment experience, spouses' experiences during deployment, service members' reintegration experiences, spouses' reintegration experiences, children's experiences during parental deployment and reintegration experiences, children's functioning, finances and spouse employment, accessibility to military services.

Much of the research shows an interconnection between the different indicators. For Army leaders, the results mean an increased focus on connecting the families to the services available and ensuring spouses and especially children take advantage of the network community available to them.

"The other piece of that that may be lesser known is that 61 percent of all of our recruits come from military families," continued Teyhen. "The programs we have for our children on the installations not only are making that family healthier now, they're actually creating the foundation for success in those individuals if they decide to join the military in the future."

The family readiness forum was one of multiple forums discussing issues for military families at this year's AUSA annual meeting. The Association of the United States Army's 2018 Annual Meeting is the largest land power exposition and professional development forum in North America. For more than 30 years, the power of this proven show provides military and industry with access to essential professional development, connection building and the opportunity to touch and see a large concentration of machinery, tools and technologies up close on the show floor.

Army Medicine's mission is to provide sustained health services and research in support of the Total Force to enable readiness and conserve the fighting strength while caring for our Soldiers for Life and Families. This mission is accomplished by Army Medical Department (AMEDD) personnel assigned across the Army around the world, 24-hours a day, 365-days a year.