Military Families and Veterans

Military Families and Veterans

Secretary Duncan at Student Voices with Patricia Shinseki"Virtually all school districts educate a child whose parent or guardian is serving in our Armed Forces, whether stationed here or abroad and whether on active duty or in the National Guard or Reserves. Of the more than 1.2 million school-aged children of service men and women, more than 80 percent attend public schools... We want all military-connected school children to have an equal and fair opportunity for academic success. This requires that those individuals who make up our nation's educational system—our teachers, principals, school nurses, coaches, and counselors—understand the unique situations the children of our service members experience."

8 Keys to Veterans' Success

Letter from Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary, Department of Education, and Allison A. Hickey, Under Secretary of Benefits, Department of Veterans Affairs, encouraging institutions of higher education to affirm support for the 8 Keys to Veterans' Success [PDF, 208KB].

The “8 Keys to Veterans’ Success” (8 Keys) are a voluntary initiative through the Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs. They highlight specific ways that colleges and universities can support veterans as they pursue their education and employment goals.

To join with the colleges and universities that are committed to the 8 Keys, to learn more about this initiative, and to electronically upload an affirmation letter from your president/chancellor, please visit the 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success registration site. By affirming support for the 8 Keys, your institution is expressing its commitment to implement the promising practices outlined in them. To view the list of 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success Sites, click here. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at or at 202-453-6392.

Department of Education Named in Executive Order to Improve Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Families

As part of the ongoing efforts to improve all facets of military mental health, Executive Order 13625 directs the Secretaries of Defense, Health and Human Services, Education, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security to expand suicide prevention strategies and take steps to meet the current and future demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment services for veterans, service members, and their families. The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, a component of the Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, will collaborate with other federal agencies in developing a National Research Action Plan to provide recommendations to the White House by April 2013; and an Interagency Task Force on Military and Veterans Mental Health to provide service delivery improvement recommendations to the White House by February 2013.

Deputy Chief of Staff Eric Waldo Toured Colorado Springs as Part of 2012 Cross-Country Back-To-School Bus Tour Promoting Education

"Education Drives America" Focused on Military-Connected Families, the Teaching Profession, and College Access and Affordability

Student Voices of Military-Connected Children Inspired Guidance from Secretary Duncan

Letter from the Secretary of Education on Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children

Joining Forces: Taking Action to Serve America's Families is a national initiative that mobilizes all sectors of society to give our Service Members and their Families all the opportunities and support they have earned.

Overview of the Secretary's Commitment to Support Military Families

  • The Department of Education (Education) will make supporting military families one of its supplemental priorities for its discretionary grant programs.

  • In order to encourage quality reintegration time, Education and DOD will provide guidance to school districts based on best practices for approving student absences relating to "block leave."

  • Education will continue the Specialized Training of Military Parents (STOMP) project, dedicated to serving military parents of children with special needs.

  • Education has greatly simplified the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

  • DOD, HHS, Education, and Agriculture have committed to increasing the availability of quality child care options thereby reducing the estimated shortfall of 37,000 child care spaces based on available demographic data.

Key Actions

  • Secretary's Priority for Military Families. This priority for discretionary grants can now be applied to favor grant applications to meet the needs of service members, spouses, military-connected children, and veterans. The Department is now seeking means of collecting and reporting data to promote transparency around the performance of military-connected children as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Department is also working to improve its Impact Aid funding of school districts serving military children.

  • Secretary's Guidance on Military-Connected Children and Public School Attendance Policies. The Secretary of Education sent a Dear Colleague Letter to all district superintendents and chief state school officers to provide guidance on military-connected children and the need for flexibility related to deployment-related absences. The letter, dated March 1, 2010, provides information for school districts seeking examples of effective practices that address the needs military families while maintaining high standards and upholding established attendance policies. It includes a link to a publication produced by the Military Child Education Coalition entitled Military-Connected Students and Public School Attendance Policies.

  • Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. The Secretary's Dear Colleague Letter sent to all district superintendents and all chief state school officers indicated support for the work of this Interstate Compact. The Secretary of Education will include the Department's awareness and support for this work in his remarks for the conference call with governors in April 2011.

  • Specialized Training of Military Parents. The Department is committed to the continuation of this project.

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The Office of Postsecondary Education sent a Dear Colleague Letter to remind financial aid administrators of their ability to exercise documented professional judgment when determining eligibility of students for federal student aid. It encourages aid administrators to consider the special circumstances that may arise for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, and reminds them about FAFSA reporting and the treatment of combat pay in the calculation of a student's expected family contribution.

  • Quality Child Care. The Department has contributed technical assistance and information about ED resources at meetings of the Sub-committee on Child Care which is part of the Interagency Policy Committee for Military Families. The Department has also provided the DoD Child Care Liaison in each of the 13 states with contact information for the IDEA 619 Coordinator and IDEA Part C Coordinator in their State to expand their awareness of State and local resources and access to existing community networks.

Military-Connected Student Wins National Art Contest