Last week in Missouri, I met with several Missouri National Guard members, their families, and faith leaders about the critical support they are providing our troops and families – both during deployments and after our service men and women return home.
As a military mom, I know firsthand what a difference the support of a church or community can have on a military family. When my son Beau was deployed to Iraq, our church put a notice in the church bulletin – a simple act of kindness that meant so much to our family.
That’s why what is happening in Missouri is so important. The Partners in Care initiative is a national partnership program linking caring faith communities to Guard members and their families who need certain resources. Through the partnership, faith-based organizations provide a wide range of free services to Guard families – from child care, to transportation, to counseling.
In Missouri, the state chaplain’s office works with congregations to identify resources that different churches offer and then work to refer Guard members to congregations for the support they need. Last month, congregations from around the state were invited to a faith-based summit held at the Missouri National Guard headquarters to learn more about the many challenges service members and their families face.
I heard one mother describe how, during her husband’s deployment, she had to be at work before her child’s daycare was open. For several months, a volunteer from a church provided that transportation for her child – and peace of mind.
I heard a pastor describe how he has coordinated support for military families ranging from providing lawn care for a soldier’s family during deployment to providing financial assistance for utility bills.
And I heard from another mother who was starting over after a domestic violence situation and turned to the Guard family for help during a challenging time. She said the local church provided her family with toiletries and household items they needed and most importantly, they provided beds for her two toddlers.
The Partners in Care initiative is making a deep and lasting impact in the lives of National Guard families – bridging the specific, immediate needs of military families with faith communities who have the resources to help.
It is my hope that more states will replicate the Missouri National Guard Partners in Care initiative to support our military families. As the Missouri National Guard’s Adjutant General Stephen Danner has said: “Our shared strength and resources make us all stronger.”