WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder today joined President Barack Obama and other administration officials to announce the presidential initiative aimed at establishing a coordinated and comprehensive federal approach to supporting military families. Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment 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 members of the cabinet and other agency heads to find better ways to provide our military families with the support they deserve.
As part of the presidential initiative, the Justice Department today identified three strategic priorities to better serve our military families.
“Our military men and women have served the cause of justice across this country and around the world – in areas of great danger and in times of urgent need,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “The Department of Justice is committed to supporting our military members, families and veterans, and the President’s initiative is an important step in addressing the primary challenges facing military families.”
The three strategic priorities announced by the Justice Department today include:
• Assisting in the development and enhancement of veterans courts around the nation, focusing on those military veterans and families with substance abuse and mental health needs. In response to the growing need for veterans courts, Bureau of Justice Assistance provided funding to the National Drug Court Institute to create and deliver a curriculum for “veterans only” drug courts. Training and technical assistance dollars have already been reallocated to address this growing need. The first Veterans Drug Court Planning Initiative occurred in October 2010 and due to the high demand, a second planning initiative will be held in February 2011.
• Working collaboratively with other federal agencies to enforce the federal laws that protect the civil rights of service members. The department will continue to 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, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the Service members Civil Relief Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
• Coordinating with the Justice Department’s Office of Violence against Women to enhance communication between civilian and military agencies to combat domestic violence and sexual assault.
The presidential initiative will also help to ensure that the U.S. military recruits and retains America’s best; service members can maintain both strong families and high states of readiness; family members can live fulfilling lives while supporting their service member(s); and the American people better understand and appreciate the experience strength and commitment of those who serve and sacrifice on their behalf.