By J.D. LeipoldOctober 14, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 14, 2011) -- The Army chief of staff thanked more than 2,500 social workers, judges, lawyers and youth advocates Oct. 14 for the acknowledgment and support they are giving to military families and their children.
Speaking on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno told the packed house at the three-day Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's National Conference that the strength of the Army is in its Soldiers and that their strength comes from their Families.
"Many people don't' understand the dedication that our spouses have throughout our careers, but it's so important to what we try to accomplish every day and what we must have from them in order for us to do our jobs," he said.
"Over the last several years our military has borne the burden of multiple deployments, separation from their families, and we often thank so much our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have served their country so well, but frankly, what we do when we come home is to recognize the heroism and courage of our families who had to adapt and adjust their lives," he said.
The conference theme, "Children's Justice and Safety: Unite, Build, Lead," focused on bringing together the many different fields of interest in juvenile justice, the structuring of effective programs for children and youth and federal leaders addressing the future of juvenile justice.
Odierno said that it wasn't just spouses who were affected by the numerous deployments or the extra burden of an injured Soldier or the burden of an ultimate sacrifice, but it's their children who will suffer if they can't cope or overcome the stresses of military life.
"I believe the strength of our country is our children," he said. "The strength of our country for the future is about how they will lead us and how they will grow up and how they will continue to move our country forward, so I'm pleased when I see events like this that are reaching out to our families and children to help them through these problems."
The general asked the audience for help in getting engagement from organizations not normally involved in military issues and to fill the gaps between where government programs can help families and where they cannot.
"We need community support for our Reserve and National Guard forces who are geographically dispersed around the country and aren't necessarily near our big military posts," he said. "We need to be able to reach out to them and their children to help them as they deal with issues.
He also said military families need continued assistance to school-age children to support seamless transitions between schools because "one of the factors we don't talk about much is -- we move a lot."
The chief cited that in his 35-year career, his family had moved 23 times, his oldest son had gone to four high schools, his middle daughter had attended three and his youngest son "got over… he only went to two high schools."
He said he wanted to forge new relationships where better access and coordination to nonprofit organizations were available to support military families. Odierno added that he wants to reach out to other departments and agencies that will encourage the incorporation of the military spouse, family and child, such as what the Department of Justice was doing at the conference.
Dr. Jill Biden and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also delivered remarks about the importance of mentoring the children of military families at the conclusion of the conference.