Education Secretary Arne Duncan Will Make Educational Opportunities for Military Families a Priority as Part of Presidential Initiative

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan Will Make Educational Opportunities for Military Families a Priority as Part of Presidential Initiative

January 24, 2011

As part of the Obama administration initiative to support military families, the U.S. Department of Education will focus on providing educational opportunities for children of military families, especially when a parent is deployed and during times of transition between schools. The Department will also simplify the financial aid application process for members of the military.

"The men and women who serve in our Nation's armed forces place a high value on education and the availability of quality educational opportunities for their children," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "The U.S. Department of Education is committed to providing children of military families the support and education they need to thrive, as well as expanding educational opportunities for military spouses and veterans."

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden announced today nearly 50 commitments by federal agencies responding to the President's directive to establish a coordinated and comprehensive federal approach to supporting military families. Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America's Commitment, released today, is the result of an effort led by the National Security Staff and Domestic Policy Council, responding to the Presidential Study Directive-9 calling on all Cabinet Secretaries and other agency heads to find better ways to provide our military families with the support they deserve. The report identifies four strategic priorities that address the primary challenges facing our military families.

  1. Enhance the well-being and psychological health of the military family.
  2. Ensure excellence in military children's education and their development.
  3. Develop career and educational opportunities for military spouses.
  4. Increase child care availability and quality for the armed forces.

U.S. Department of Education will make supporting military families one of its supplemental priorities for the its discretionary grant programs. This priority, when applied, will for the first time ever, favor grant applications to meet the needs of military students. The Department has also made accessing and processing of financial aid more tailored to military families and more sensitive to the financial fluctuations of Guard and Reserve personnel. Also, the Department is seeking new ways to collect and report data pertaining to military connected children.

These four priorities were identified with special attention to the feedback that the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and Administration officials have received from the many service members and their families they have encountered over the past two years. They address the concerns and challenges of the families of Active Duty and Reserve Component Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard members; Veterans; and those who have fallen. Each Cabinet Secretary pledged to continue to communicate these priorities, share expertise, and establish sustainable solutions through leveraging partnerships.

This report also serves as a springboard to highlight the military families' contributions as a national and community resource and identifies opportunities to leverage more of the skills, experience, and capacity of military family members. Additionally, this overall effort endeavors to strengthen existing feedback mechanisms for military families to voice their concerns and opinions, their unique challenges, the effectiveness of existing programs, and their input on the future direction of related federal programs and policies.