Representatives from MOAA will join Defense Secretary Mark Esper, members of Congress, and fellow advocates for an Oct. 9 summit on the needs of families of those in uniform during the coronavirus pandemic.
Esper will serve as the keynote speaker for the 2020 Virtual Summit of the Congressional Military Family Caucus, a daylong series of panels covering education needs, health care and housing concerns, spouse employment and transition assistance, and other topics. MOAA has been a regular participant in the annual event, including last year’s in-person gathering at Fort Benning, Ga.
The summit offers “a great opportunity to share our legislative priorities that directly benefit military families and get both members of Congress and military families involved in these advocacy efforts,” said Eryn Wagnon, MOAA’s director of government relations for military family policy and spouse programs. “As COVID-19 has impacted military families in a whole new way, it is important now more than ever to directly engage military families, listen to the issues they are facing, and highlight resources available to them.”
[ATTEND THE SUMMIT: Register Here for the Oct. 9 (12:30-6 p.m. Eastern) Event]
Wagnon will participate in the child care panel alongside MOAA board member Col. Rojan Robotham, USAF. Robotham addressed the issue at a December 2019 congressional briefing hosted by Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), who will also take part in the Oct. 9 panel set for 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
MOAA’s recent advocacy efforts on the issue have included asking Congress to secure financial relief for child care providers in the civilian sector, many of whom are relied upon by families of those in uniform whose needs can’t be met by on-base services.
Karen Ruedisueli, MOAA's director of government relations for health affairs, will be part of the 4 p.m. Eastern health care panel. MOAA’s work on this issue has included efforts to protect family benefits during ongoing Military Health System reform efforts.
Ruedisueli testified during a February House Armed Services subcommittee hearing on the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), seeking solutions to gaps in care and long waitlists faced by families of children with special needs.
Michelle Norman, the 2019 AFI Navy Spouse of the Year and an incoming member of MOAA's Currently Serving Spouse Advisory Council, is set to participate in the special education panel (2 p.m. Eastern). Norman was part of the February EFMP hearing and shared her family’s personal story of navigating that program and other portions of the military medical system, and how MOAA membership has supported those efforts.
About the Summit
Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) founded the Congressional Military Family Caucus in 2009. Both representatives will offer opening remarks at the virtual event, along with Col. Cassius Bentley III, USAF, commander of the 92d Air Refueling Wing at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The installation, located in McMorris Rodgers’ district, hosted the summit in 2018.
In addition to Esper, other speakers include Reps. Trent Kelly (R-Miss., ranking member of the House Armed Service Committee’s military personnel subcommittee) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), along with military officials representing various family programs, including the Defense Health Agency.
The conference will be available virtually via Zoom. Registration information is available at this link.