The soon-to-be-retiring Joints Chief of Staff, Navy Admiral Mike Mullen and his wife Deborah, continued their town hall meeting circuit with an event in Miami on Tuesday. The town hall at the University of Miami was preceded by a business roundtable organized by the co-host of ADC’s 2012 Winter Forum, the Miami-Dade Defense Alliance. Nearly 40 community and business leaders spent an hour with Mullen and his wife discussing the importance of engaging the broader community on the issues facing veterans and military families. The Admiral discussed the current challenges facing both groups and the opportunities the communities by being leaders in supporting those who have served our nation.
While not traditionally viewed as a defense community, the economic impact of defense spending in Miami-Dade county is $4 billion annually, and with the region’s historic connections to the military and military installations around the state, it is home to many veterans – both new and old. The area is home to many innovative projects serving veterans and military families that were shared with the Admiral and will be highlighted during ADC’s Winter Forum next February.
The town hall meeting offered a broad range of questions for Mullen, but a major focus was on ensuring that the general public does not become disconnected from the challenges of deployments and the strains of war. The stress level for troops and their families is up, he said. The Army suicide rate has been climbing and now exceeds the national average. “We as a country need to figure out how to take care of them for the rest of their lives,” Mullen told the group of more than 200 who had gathered.
This event is one of a series of community outreach opportunities led by Mullen who travel to Atlanta for an event on Wednesday.