REP. BISHOP, REP. MCMORRIS RODGERS WORK FOR MILITARY FAMILIES
SPOKANE, WA – Today, Thursday, August 14, 2015, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), Co-chair of the bi-partisan Congressional Military Family Caucus (CMFC) and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies joined Co-chair of the CMFC, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) at a Military Family Summit for over 125 members of the extended military family at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington.
“Almost five years ago Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and I founded this Caucus to honor the debt our nation holds for the sacrifices military families continue to make,” said Congressman Bishop. “Today’s summit reminds us that military service is about people. How we care for service members and their families determines the success of the most professional all-volunteer force this world has even seen, now and into the future.”
Hosted by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, today’s CMFC Summit continued the dialogue between military families and the Caucus. Military families were introduced to Members of Congress, officials from the Department of Defense, and personnel from numerous military family support organizations to discuss pressing issues impacting them.
"It is an honor and a privilege to speak with our military families, and this summit afforded us an opportunity to better understand the challenges these men and women face every single day,” said Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers. “Their stories are what matter most, and this productive event brings new purpose to the work we are doing to ensure the military family community has their voices heard. Be it military spouse employment challenges, furthering education, or transitioning from military life, we will take their thoughts and ideas back with us to Congress, and we will work together to create better opportunities on behalf of this community."
Panel discussions designed to open a dialogue for military families addressed critical issues such as mental health, spouse employment and education, military child education, health care and caregiver concerns, and transition assistance with attending military families.
“I am proud of the military families living in my district in Georgia at Fort Benning in Columbus, the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, and the communities around Robins Air Force Base in Georgia,” continued Congressman Bishop, “They are a living embodiment of the eternal optimism we hold in our country. They proudly volunteered to join the less than one percent to serve our nation here and abroad, in support of our national defense. We must address their concerns, for truly, military families are the backbone of our military.”
The CMFC is a bipartisan congressional caucus that educates elected officials, congressional staffers, senior military leaders and the public on a wide range of unique issues that affect military families. Currently, over 80 Democrats and Republicans are members of the CMFC.
For coverage of the 2013 summit at Fort Benning, Georgia; please click here. For coverage of the 2012 summit at Fort Benning, Georgia; please click here. For coverage of the 2011 summit at Fairchild AFB in Spokane, Washington; please click here. To view or download photos from today’s event from today’s event, please click here. To view today’s live-tweet conversation through #MilFamSummit, please click here. For more information about the Congressional Military Family Caucus, please click here.
In his opening remarks, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. noted the importance of giving back to our nation’s veterans and military families. Below is the full text of Congressman Bishop’s prepared remarks:
PREPARED REMARKS FOR
THE HONORABLE SANFORD D. BISHOP, JR.
CMFC FAMILY SUMMIT – NATIONAL INFANTRY MUSEUM
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE - THURSDAY, August 14, 2014
Good morning and thank you for joining us today for this year's Congressional Military Family Caucus Family Summit (CMFC)! It is a great pleasure to be amongst those who have such a big impact on making America great - our brave men and women in uniform and you who admirably support those that defend our nation and safeguard our liberties.
I want to thank my colleague and Co-Chair of the CMFC, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, for hosting the summit this year at Fairchild Air Force Base. For myself, Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers, and many of our colleagues in the Congressional Military Family Caucus, the issues discussed today are important to us not just because of our constituencies, but due to our deeply personal connection as well.
Experiences like my wife's have taught me that our service members and their families serve and sacrifice together.
I would be remiss if I did not also thank our keynote speaker - Chief Master Sergeant James Cody - for his participation in today's event. I commend you and and all the Joint Chiefs for your current, and future, work on behalf of our military families.
I would also like to thank our moderators and panelists that will be facilitating the Summit today. Almost five years ago Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and I founded this Caucus to honor the debt our nation holds for the sacrifices military families continue to make.
We are deeply grateful to organizations such as Blue Star Families, Gold Star Wives, Military Child Education Coalition, American Logistics Association, Military Officers Association of America, and all of the military family support organizations here today. Your expertise will provide us with background on issues most important to the spouses, widows, and children of military service members stationed across the world.
Sometimes it is easy to recognize the sacrifices that our service members make without being fully aware of the tremendous hardships their families must endure. We feel it is equally important to educate elected officials, congressional staffers, senior military leaders, and the public on a wide range of issues that affect military families.
Additionally, I would like to salute the outstanding work being done on behalf of our military families by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden through Joining Forces Initiative as well as Members of the bipartisan Senate Military Family Caucus.
Most of all, I would like to thank the service members, military families, widows, and veterans joining us today. Our nation will forever be grateful for your selfless sacrifices and service to our nation.
Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and I are incredibly proud to have everyone here today and wanted to kick off the Summit by shining a light on the special challenges which military families face: healthcare, education, jobs, housing, and child care. This will be the Fourth Congressional Military Family Summit that Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and I have held with military families. Over time, the gathered feedback has included:
- Mental Health impacts of 10 years at war;
- Educational challenges facing military children;
- Service members transitioning from active duty service to the civilian sector; and
- Health care and caregiver concerns
In the past, the feedback received was vital to our efforts in finding policy solutions that benefit our nation's beloved veterans, widows, and military families. So please feel free to speak your mind and share your story. This event provides our caucus a direction for the rest of the 113th Congress, and it is your input that points us to where we need to go.
As our international conflicts begin to draw down, resulting in reductions in military end-strength and constrained defense budgets, we must ensure that our obligations to military families are met.
I am proud of the military families living in my district in Georgia at Fort Benning in Columbus, the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, and the communities around Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. They are a living embodiment of the eternal optimism we hold in our country. They proudly volunteered to join the less than one percent to serve our nation here and abroad, in support of the U. S. service member. Truly, military families are the backbone of our military.
And after asking our Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve members, and their families to endure multiple deployments over the last twelve years, we in Congress must meet our commitment to support increased spousal and widow employment, training and education, health care options and coverage, as well as better military child education.
We cannot rest and rely on the progress made in the past. We must continue to work on areas that need improvement, and explore new areas of concern. So, I would ask all those here today, who value our military families, to continue this dialog with us. The members of our Caucus, and other members of Congress, need to hear from you. Your voices are important and extremely powerful.
We cannot forget -- military service is about people. How we care for service members and their families, determine the success of the most professional all volunteer force this world has even seen, now and into the future.
We hope that you will actively participate in the breakout sessions and help us to work together, improve military families' quality of life, and expand your opportunities.