The spouse of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Sharene Brown, has announced a Five & Thrive initiative, which increases focus and attention on the top five quality of life challenges military families face.
The challenges – childcare, education, healthcare, housing and spouse employment – are directly tied to military family readiness, resilience, and retention of the force. These five areas were selected based on feedback from military families and surveys conducted by Blue Star Families, Military OneSource, the Military Family Advisory Network, and other organizations.
Five & Thrive was developed by Brown with her Thrive Team, a diverse group of spouses. Her platform aims to encourage, support and build thriving military families by tackling these challenges and enhancing preventative measures through partnerships and sharing of best practices.
“My goal is to ensure these five specific areas are highlighted and any challenges under them are met with purpose and resolve, to include the unique challenges to our Exceptional Family Members Program families,” Brown said.
Brown meets with families and service members during base visits to collect experiences, best practices and recommendations. Her goal is to share this information with senior leaders to address these challenges, promote community partnerships, and ultimately improve quality of life for military families.
With support of the Thrive Team, Brown publishes a monthly CSAF Spouse Situation Report, which helps to communicate and share information with military spouses. The SITREP will focus on identifying the latest actions, policy changes, and available resources made at the headquarters level to bring awareness to our military families.
“These actions and policies taking place at the highest levels are not always readily communicated to our spouses and families,” Brown said. “Sharing this information directly to our spouses is vital to their continued support. Military spouses are essential to the success and strength of our force and should be included in those quality-of-life discussions.”
Brown, in conjunction with the Thrive Team, collaborates to support her Five & Thrive platform, as well as other initiatives that are for spouses and led by spouses.
This team produced an educational and inspirational guidebook for today’s military spouse. This guidebook consolidates essential information and resources into one easy-to-use tool and is currently available on the AF.mil website and the AF Connect App. The guidebook is divided into three sections:
1. “In This Together” – This section highlights pertinent information on Airman and Family Readiness, the Key Spouses Program, Military OneSource, the Spouses clubs, and resiliency resources.
2. “Five & Thrive” – This section explains the services and support options available to members and their families under each pillar of the Five & Thrive initiative as described below:
- Childcare – on and off-base daycare options, before and after-school care, child care subsidies and youth programs
- Education – K-12 education, Military Interstate Compact Commission, spouse education, spouse career advancement and Post-9/11 GI Bill
- Healthcare – TRICARE, dental, pharmacy, vision, patient advocates, Exceptional Family Members Program, mental health and Family Advocacy Program
- Housing – base housing, off-base housing, household goods, storage and move planning
- Spouse employment – Airman and Family Readiness Center programs, hiring assistance programs, re-licensure/recertification, USAJOBS, career development and entrepreneurial exploration
An extra section explains additional resources outside of these pillars such as Airman’s Attic, base exchange, library, commissary, fitness center, legal assistance and sexual assault response coordinator.
3. “Military Life” – This section focuses on military organization, rank structure, pay and benefits, acronyms and security issues. Spouse testimonials share personal insight, knowledge, and experience to bring awareness to spouse situations.
For up-to-date information on these initiatives, follow Brown’s Facebook page here.
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Article by Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
Feature image: U.S. Air Force graphic