Communities will need to find new ways to support military families and veterans as the military adapts new strategies and personnel policies, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) annual conference in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday.
Carter mentioned two changes the military is considering as it designs new personnel policies to build and retain the Force of the Future.
“Transition out of the military will look different than it did 70 years ago, or, for that matter, 10 years ago,” he said, reported DOD News. “It’ll mean that in the future, some might only serve for a time, while others may spend 25 years moving back and forth between national service and other opportunities.”
Officials also are exploring adjustments that would reduce the frequency of moves for service members, allowing military families to stay in one community longer and establish more stable lives.
And because many of the changes DOD is contemplating are designed to ensure the military attracts the nation’s top science and technology talent, Carter urged NACo members to continue the emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math programs in their schools.
The bottom line is that counties and local communities “are the source of the American military’s enduring strength, because you provide our men and women in uniform the preparation, the care and the purpose they need to defend our country,” Carter said.
The secretary pressed communities to strive not only to support the members of the armed forces, “but to know our troops.”
“Let’s make a future where this is a two-way street where both military and civilian communities contribute to each other,” he said.
When veterans come into communities, “empower them with opportunities to continue leading lives of meaning and purpose,” he told the audience.
“To be clear, they aren’t looking for handouts,” Carter said.