Strengthening Our Military Families

Strengthening Our Military Families

About the Initiative

In May 2010, President Barack Obama directed the national Security Staff at the White House to develop a coordinated Federal Government-wide approach to supporting military families. By harnessing resources and expertise across the Federal Government, the Obama Administration is improving the quality of military family life, helping communities more effectively support military families, and thereby improving the long-term effectiveness of U.S. military forces.

On January 24, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden announced nearly 50 commitments by federal agencies responding to the President's directive to establish a coordinated and comprehensive federal approach to supporting military families. These commitments are detailed in a report, Strengthening Our Military Families (PDF, 4M), and more information about government-wide action can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/military-families.

The employees of the Department of Justice are proud to be a part of that effort and to serve our nation's men and women in uniform.  The Attorney General is committed to three primary priorities; stopping terrorism, reducing domestic crime, and fair administration of justice.  Each area has applicability to aiding the mission, supporting military families, and providing safeguards for rehabilitation of military members, families, and veterans.  The Department of Justice has committed to:

Protecting the Civil Rights of Service Members

The Department of Justice, in partnership with other federal agencies, is committed to enforcing the federal laws that protect the civil rights of service members. The Department will coordinate with the Department of Defense and any other appropriate agencies to ensure military families are aware of their rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA"), The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act ("UOCAVA"), The Service members Civil Relief Act ("SCRA"), and of course the Americans with Disabilities Act, which so often applies to service members or veterans with disabilities.

See www.servicemembers.gov for detailed information on how the Department of Justice and other federal agencies can help, and what servicemembers can do to protect their rights under the law.    

Funding Veterans' Court Trainings

The Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance within the Office of Justice Programs funds various Drug Court Planning Initiatives (DCPI) which aim to provide evidence-based training program for planning local Drug Courts for adult, veteran and/or tribal offenders. 

Since 2009, BJA recognized an increase in returning service members becoming involved in the criminal justice system with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health issues thus BJA added a component to the DCPI to specifically focus on developing a training curriculum for Veterans’ Treatment Courts, which are hybrid Drug and Mental Health Courts that use the Drug Court model to serve veterans struggling with addiction, serious mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders,  including serious, undertreated ailments, like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, both of which can produce higher rates of drug abuse, domestic violence and other criminality.

They promote sobriety, recovery and stability through a coordinated response that involves cooperation and collaboration with the traditional partners found in Drug and Mental Health Courts, with the addition of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care networks, the Veterans' Benefits Administration, volunteer veteran mentors and veterans and veterans' family support organizations.  The website of the National  Association of Drug Court Professionals offers detailed information on veterans’ courts:  http://www.nadcp.org/JusticeForVets.

Providing Mentoring Resources for Children in Military Families

In FY 2011, the Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) awarded a total of $20 million to nine organizations to support mentoring programs and services for youth with a parent in the military. The Department of Defense provided this funding to OJJDP as part of a joint effort to support military families. Grants activities will focus on helping youth develop resiliency skills; connect with other military families; acquire career training; and get involved in their communities. Grantees under this initiative include: Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Big Brothers Big Sisters; National 4-H Council; KidsPeace; Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation; National Alliance of Faith & Justice; Public/Private Ventures; YMCA of San Francisco; and the Sea Research Foundation.