How We Support

The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy is directly responsible for programs and policies establishing and supporting community quality of life programs for active-duty, National Guard and reserve service members, their families and survivors worldwide. The office also serves as the resource for coordination of quality of life issues within the Department of Defense.

Military Community and Family Policy provides the foundation for a continuum of support across military and civilian communities that enables service members, military families, and survivors to thrive by:

  • Building an enduring support system that is agile enough to address emerging service member and family needs and resilient in the face of shifting external pressures
  • Leveraging the capacity of federal, state and local governments and nongovernmental entities to provide support to service members, their families and survivors where they live
  • Improving the ability of Military Community and Family Policy to make timely, informed decisions and demonstrate impact, value and relevance of its services to help maintain a ready force and service member and family well-being

Military Community and Family Policy programs

  • Military OneSource – Both a website and a call center, Military OneSource provides service members, their families and survivors with comprehensive information and support programs that address every aspect of military life. In addition to non-medical counseling services, Military OneSource provides several options for support, including specialty consultations that cover a variety of helpful topics and a 24/7 call center for support anytime, anywhere. All counselors have a master’s or doctorate degree in a mental health field and are licensed and trained to provide support for military-specific issues. These services are provided free of charge and are easily accessible, helping to maintain healthy relationships and mission readiness. Financial counseling, tax preparation and filing services, document translation, information and referral, language interpretation, education materials and mobile solutions are also available to assist service members, their families and survivors.
  • Military and Family Life Counseling Program – The Military and Family Life Counseling Program also provides free, confidential non-medical counseling and personal financial counseling to authorized individuals for up to 12 sessions, per issue. Available in person at installation Military and Family Support Centers, service members, their families and survivors can rely on military and family life counselors, with a master’s or doctorate degree in a mental health field, to rapidly respond when they need it most. Military and family life counselors who are on rotational assignments or embedded in units are available for confidential face-to-face counseling, as well as briefings and presentations. All counseling sessions are anonymous since counselors do not keep personal records.
  • Children and Youth programs –The Department of Defense helps support military families by providing child care options through child development centers, family child care homes, school-age care programs, and youth and teen centers around the world. Child development centers typically serve children ages 6 weeks to 5 years. Family child care homes, also known as child development homes, provide care for infants and children up to age 12 in the service provider's home. School-age care programs for children from ages 6 to 12 provide care before and after school, on holidays and all day in the summer. Youth and teen centers prepare youth to meet the challenges of military life, adolescence and adulthood through activities like physical fitness and sports, arts and recreation, training in leadership and life skills.
  • Exceptional Family Member Program – The Exceptional Family Member Program supports military families with special medical and educational needs. The program has three components: identification and enrollment, assignment coordination, and family support. Identification and enrollment provides information about the family member’s needs, which is taken into consideration during the assignment coordination process. Family support helps service members and their families identify and access programs and services.
  • Family Advocacy Program – The Family Advocacy Program is the congressionally-designated program responsible for preventing and responding to child abuse and neglect and domestic abuse in military families. The program works with key military and civilian departments, including medical, law enforcement, legal, chaplains, child and youth, and social agencies to promote a coordinated community response.
  • Relocation Assistance Program – The Relocation Assistance Program helps service members and their immediate family members with military moves in a cost-effective and efficient manner by providing information before their departure, during their move and while settling in at their new location. The goal is to educate individuals and families about their new location, help them make wise decisions, and get settled quickly, prevent stressors on the family and increase productivity. Relocation crosses many topics of Military Community and Family Policy, including financial readiness, special needs, child care, spouse employment, education and family advocacy. The program also coordinates with key personnel in housing, military personnel policy and transportation.
  • Deployment support – Deployment can be one of the most challenging periods for our military families. Service members and their families may face a variety of challenges throughout the deployment cycle — from the receipt of orders through the reintegration phase — as they adjust to separation and changes in family dynamics and responsibilities. Military and Family Support Centers, Reserve Component Family Programs and Military OneSource are available to provide support through every step of the deployment cycle.
  • Casualty Assistance Program – The Casualty Assistance Program makes sure that military families have support in their time of need, including understanding all benefits and other forms of assistance. Although the term "casualty" is usually associated with death, casualty support to eligible family members also means support after injury and illness, and when a service member is missing, duty status — whereabouts unknown, or excused absence — whereabouts unknown.
  • Mortuary Affairs Program – The Mortuary Affairs Program provides for the search, recovery and evacuation of human remains; interment and disinterment of remains; care and disposition of missing and deceased personnel and the handling of their personal effects; the identification and forensic pathology investigations of deaths; mortuary services at the local level; contract and service mortuaries; and disposition and mortuary benefits processing.
  • Wounded Warriors – Wounded, ill and injured service members, as well as their family members and caregivers, deserve the highest quality care and support. The Department of Defense and additional agencies and resources work together to provide important resources and services. Each of the individual branches of service operates a wounded warrior program to assist service members and their families with non-medical issues associated with the transition back to duty or to civilian life. The wounded warrior programs work with the service member and his or her medical team to develop a comprehensive recovery plan that addresses specific recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration goals.
  • Spouse Education and Career Opportunities – Spouse Education and Career Opportunities is a Department of Defense program designed to assist military spouses and surviving spouses with education and career planning. Certified career counselors in the Military OneSource Spouse Career Center provide education and career counseling services to all military spouses associated with the following four Spouse Education and Career Opportunities life cycle stages: career exploration; education, training and licensing; employment readiness; and career connections.
  • Morale, Welfare and Recreation – Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs promote active living and improve the quality of life of service members, their families and other eligible patrons, including former and surviving spouses. A comprehensive network of leisure and support programs is available both on and off military installations. Common Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs include fitness, aquatics, libraries and information services, park and picnic areas, social recreation, single service member programs, recreation centers, sports and athletics, community programs, tickets and leisure travel, outdoor recreation, marinas and boating, crafts and hobbies, bowling, golf, food and beverage services, movies and recreation equipment rental, and operating nearly 5,000 programs.
  • Commissaries – The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families and survivors in a safe and secure shopping environment. A core military family support element and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America's military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.
  • Exchanges – The exchanges operate major retail stores on military installations worldwide and support numerous deployments, contingencies, and disaster and emergency relief locations throughout the world. The exchanges have a two-fold mission: first, to provide authorized shoppers with merchandise and services at a savings, and second, to generate nonappropriated-fund earnings as a source of funding for Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.
  • Military and Family Support Centers – As a gateway to the resources service members and their families need, the Military and Family Support Center provides information, support and services to help balance the demands of military life. The Military and Family Support Center is one part of the overall Family Readiness System (the network of agencies, programs, services, partnerships and individuals), which supports personal and family life readiness, mobilization and deployment readiness, and mobility and economic readiness. In addition to the installation Military and Family Support Centers, the National Guard and reserve Family Assistance Centers provide a variety of referral-based services to geographically-dispersed families and retirees from all military components.
  • Department of Defense-State Liaison Office - The Department of Defense-State Liaison Office engages state policymakers on the needs of military members and their families. Currently, efforts focus on 10 key issues (as approved by the assistant secretary of defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs), which promote the well-being of service members and their families.
  • Armed Forces Retirement Home – The Armed Forces Retirement Home is a one-of-a-kind independent federal establishment that runs two continuing-care retirement communities: one in the District of Columbia and one in Gulfport, Mississippi. The Armed Forces Retirement Home provides eligible residents levels of care to meet their independent living, assisted living, long-term care and memory-support needs. Since its origins in the 19th century, the Armed Forces Retirement Home has evolved into the premier retirement community for America’s military veterans offering modern facilities, dynamic activities, healthy meals, wellness programs, advanced care and much more.
  • Department of Defense and Department of Agriculture Partnership for Military Families – For more than 30 years, the Department of Agriculture, Land-Grant Universities, the Cooperative Extension Service, the Department of Defense and military services have collaborated to support service members and their families. One of these partnerships, the Partnership for Military Families, coordinates research, education and extension programs of the Land Grant Universities’ Cooperative Extension Service to advance the health, well-being and quality of life for service members, their families and their communities.
  • Nonappropriated Funds Policy – The Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Resale Policy Directorate provides policy and oversees the services' generation, management, use and control of nonappropriated funds. Nonappropriated funds are generated by members of the military community through their participation in programs and services operated by commissaries, exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and related organizations.

Military Community and Family Policy establishes and implements these quality of life services to enhance the lives of our military community and support them through each stage of life. Visit Military OneSource for more information on many of these programs and the resources they provide.