Columbus, Ga. – On Tuesday, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Co-Founders and Co-Chairs of the Congressional Military Family Caucus, led the 2023 Military Family Summit at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center near Fort Moore.
The day-long summit brought together servicemembers and their families with Department of Defense officials and military family support organizations to discuss the most pressing issues military families face today. The site of the annual event alternates between Fort Moore and Fairchild Air Force Base in Eastern Washington.
The theme of this year’s summit was “Together We Thrive: Strengthening Resilience and Enhancing Well-being in Military Families.”
Below are excerpts from Cathy’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:
“The military community holds a special place in my heart. My husband, Brian Rodgers, spent 26 years in the Navy. We met after he retired, but his experience opened my eyes further to the realities of military service, especially the impact on families. Whenever I am a little grumpy about being apart from my family for a few days, Brian would tell me: Think about those military families.”
“I like to say when someone joins the military, it’s not just a job—it’s a family commitment to our country. That’s why Congressman Sanford Bishop and I co-founded the bipartisan Congressional Military Family Caucus many years ago.”
“I believe that in order for America to be a diplomatic power, it must be a military power – and to be a military power, it needs to be an economic power. It’s all connected, and military families are the faces behind every part. Family readiness is military readiness.”
“Earlier this year, I was glad to help get the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act signed into law by the president. This is a bill I’ve worked on for some time, and what it does is simple. It allows military spouses to use their professional licenses – if they’re a realtor, a nurse, a teacher, or whatever their profession is – across state lines.
“This relieves such a huge burden for spouses who are forced to move due to their spouse being reassigned and find themselves caught up in years of relicensing red tape, leaving them unable to work or help provide for their family.
“Thanks to this law, never again will a military spouse walk on to a new base and be told that all that paperwork and years of experience aren’t enough to prove they can do their job safely.
“But this is just the start. I am working on several bills this Congress to address some of the other issues I hear about the most, like expanding access to affordable housing, providing more food security for families, and making sure military children receive the support they need to thrive.”
“The bottom line is that I am constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to help military families, and I know today’s summit will shine some light on more than a few.”
“Thank you again for your service and sacrifice for our nation. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.”
During the summit, there were four panel discussions featuring presenters from military service organizations, as well as U.S. Armed Forces leadership and leaders of federal programs that support military families. Panel topics included:
Family Readiness and Quality of Life
Work-Life Balance, Health Care Access, Food Security, and Special Needs and Disabilities
Military Spouse Employment, Child Care, Financial Readiness, and Retirement/Transition
Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Suicide Prevention
The goal of the annual summit is to raise awareness about federal resources that support military families, as well as hear from military families about the challenges they face. Usingfeedback from the Summit, members of Congress can work towards creating or improving the programs, departments, and agencies that serve them.
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