Military spouses joined Second Lady Karen Pence at the Vice President Residence last week to enjoy camaraderie and discuss challenges military families face.
The Second Lady hosted 24 leaders from the Military Family Advisory Network for a breakfast on Friday to kick off the group's annual Solutions Summit. The nonprofit group, which is led by military families, connects military families to resources such as budget planning workshops.
“She is incredibly compassionate,” said Shannon Razsadin, executive director for the Military Family Advisory Network. “This is personal for her. We really were able to connect with her in a very special way.”
Enjoyed spending time at the Vice President's Residence with military spouses who hold leadership roles with @Mil_FANet. They are doing some important work to help military families. Keep up the great work! pic.twitter.com/ZqEjBqti12- Karen Pence (@SecondLady) August 10, 2018
Pence's son was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Marine Corps in 2015. Razsadin said Pence stayed for about an hour to hear stories from individuals in the organization about their military family life.
“Each military family has its own unique experience, its own unique challenges and success,” she said. “We're able to bring these challenges together. People like Mrs. Pence and lawmakers, they often come to us and say, 'Tell us the real challenges,' so they can have a real clear understanding of the modern military family so they can move policy forward in a way that's reflective of our families. It was a wonderful opportunity for an open dialogue on all types of issues. She was very receptive to what we shared.”
Razsadin said the group was thrilled to get face time with the Second Lady and directly convey their success and challenges as military families. Vice President Mike Pence even made a surprise visit to take photos with the group, she said.
[Did you know? The MOAA foundation funds the MOAA Military Spouse Professional Development Program, supported by a grant from USAA. To learn more about MOAA programs supporting military spouses, go here.]
This year, the Military Family Advisory Network's summit is focused on challenges noted in its 2017 Military Family Support Programming Survey, which are healthcare coverage, employment, education, food security and the impact of frequent moves. The survey helps identify which military family support resources are effective and which need to be altered.
Based on the recent survey, the nonprofit group recommended prioritizing healthcare, encouraging community involvement and offering financial education for currently serving troops and retirees.
“I am encouraged by the organization's commitment to address of the greatest challenges facing military families, such as military spouse employment, education and the effects of frequent moves,” Pence said, during the breakfast. “Their work on these issues will play an important role helping to identify how we can better assist military families.”
Amanda Dolasinski is MOAA's staff writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMOAA.