ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Army unveiled the Army Family Covenant on Oct. 8,
2007, pledging a commitment to provide Soldiers and Families a quality
of life commensurate with their dedicated service and sacrifice to the
Indeed, the Covenant is the service’s promise to take care of not only
Soldiers, but Family members who also serve side-by-side with them,
while providing unconditional support to keep the Army strong.
Youth couldn’t keep their feet on
the ground during an Exceptional Family Member Program Summer
Camp held at Heidelberg, Germany. Army Family Covenant funding
was used to organize the camp.
(Photo by Jason Austin)
The Army Family Covenant is comprised of commitments to enhance Soldier
and Family readiness. But two years after the initial signing, many
Soldiers and Families still are unsure what the program is supposed to
provide or the makeup of its content.
Overall, the Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Command (FMWRC)
is the organization charged with developing MWR policy, plans,
strategies and standards; supporting Army commanders to implement Family
and MWR programs; and operate and manage assigned MWR activities.
The Family Programs directorate within FMWRC is responsible for
developing all Family programs and services within the Army.
And such military Families are resilient, said FMWRC officials; however
they require assistance to help them meet their needs
The Covenant’s commitment enhances that resiliency by providing support,
training, care and social interaction opportunities through an
established and resourced infrastructure.
The result? Delivering quality programs and services in a consistent and
“The Army Family Covenant has brought greater awareness of Families and
recognition of their service and sacrifice,” said Lynn McCollum,
director of FMWRC Family Programs.
McCoy benefits from
Army Family Covenant
• A new $4.8M Child Development
Center, which can accommodate an additional 44 child spaces, was
constructed and opened in October 2009.
• The Child, Youth & School Services program had a total benefit
of $13,802.50 for fiscal year 2009, which included:
— Free registration for all families.
— Full-time discount for families with deployed parents.
— Free Respite Care for families with deployed parents.
— Reduced hourly care for families
with deployed parents.
• Many improvements also were made with the money to Rumpel
Fitness Center programs, Soldier and family housing, and other
“Families tell us we have great programs; there was no need to create
new programs, only to fully fund and staff existing programs
Therefore, “We have expanded our budget over the previous two years to
significantly improve the existing Family programs, pay for these
improvements in service and increase the number of people who directly
support execution of these services,” McCollum said.
“A great example is respite care for Families with exceptional needs,”
she noted. “For the first time, this program has been fully funded.”
These programs and services are critical in Families coping with
frequent deployments, stressors resulting from unfamiliarity with Army
life or the installation, and the ultimate fear ... loss of a loved one.
A major tenet of the Covenant is a commitment to standardize Family
programs and services throughout the service. One example: implementing
Army Community Service staffing and programs at installations worldwide,
resulting in the full funding of 477 positions needed to meet
operational and staffing shortfalls.
“The Army, through the Covenant, has developed numerous programs that
specifically are targeted to improve our quality of support and
service,” McCollum said. “One area where we have invested much time and
resources is the
ArmyOneSource.com Web site, which provides a single access point to
programs and services for Families on Army installations and for those
people who are geographically (separated) from a post.”
Another notable service the Army has implemented since that 2007
signing: the establishment of Survivor Outreach Services, which is a
standardized, decentralized approach to improving support for survivors
of fallen Soldiers.
It recognized the need to develop survivor support coordinators and
financial counselors to improve outreach, referrals, life skills,
investment education and estate planning.
Also developed and implemented through the Covenant was the addition of
nearly 1,100 Family readiness support assistants within Family Readiness
Groups, which are normally comprised of Soldiers’ spouses from within
battalion- or brigade-sized units who meet to discuss and resolve issues
affecting Families and such organizations.
And Soldier and Family assistance centers were established at Army
communities owning Warrior Transition Units.
These centers provide a facility for wounded warriors and their Families
to gather for mutual support to aid in the physical, spiritual, and
mental healing process.
Services provided within the centers include transition support, as well
as financial, child care and education counseling.
Additionally, the FMWRC Family Plans Directorate has forged greater
relationships with the Army’s Chaplain Corps, as the Covenant created an
additional 33 Family Life Chaplain positions meant to deliver Family
ministry, training and marriage enhancement programs.
Similarly, the Strong Bonds program includes a series of marriage and
Family skill-building programs designed to increase marital
satisfaction, reduce divorce rates, and enhance Soldier and Family
“We know that strong relationships have been proven to be directly
related to increased resiliency. Strong Bonds is a proven method to
building those attachments,” said Lt. Col. Tom Waynick, FMWRC staff
chaplain. “I am proud that we at FMWRC are supporting this great
commander-chaplain lead program.”
To support Soldiers and Families during the deployment and return cycle,
the Army has increased the number of Military Family Life Consultants
working directly with Army Community Service, National Guard
Headquarters and Reserve Regional Commands.
These consultants help Families during reintegration, provide outreach
to Guard and Reserve Families, and respond to specific requests for
support when there has been a unit death or injury.
“There are a myriad of programs and services the Army Family Covenant
pledges to provide our Soldiers and Families,” said McCollum. “We ensure
our communities receive the best possible service; we listen to their
concerns to develop and implement programs that address their
“We want to ensure every Family is provided the resources they need to
make them more resilient through difficult or stressful times in their
lives,” she added.
“The Army Family Covenant promises this support. Soldiers and Families
deserve the very best and we continually strive to be the conduit that
provides the Family programs and services to fulfill that promise.”