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Contributing Author

Spouse and Family Support: CLASSY Awards Top 5

From childcare to widow support, Spouse and Family Support programs recognize that the entire family is affected by a service member’s duty, whether they are home or away. These programs are designed for spouses, significant others, children, non-next of kin, and all extended family who form the support network for a Veteran or Service member. View the key indicators of this subcategory here.


National Military Survivor Helpline
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING For each active duty military loss, 10 people, on average, are significantly impacted. It takes 5-7 years for those who have experienced the traumatic death of a loved one to reach their “new normal.” Because of this, long-term emotional support is paramount.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]National Military Survivor Helpline
Program Name

United States
Location

1994
Start date

Sheri Beck
Program Director

@TAPS4America[/su_pullquote]

TAPS built the National Military Survivor Helpline to offer 24/7 support for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one. The program was benchmarked against the accreditation criteria used by nationally recognized entities like the Alliance for Information and Referral Service (AIRS) and Contact USA (CUSA), and developed in collaboration with the Behavioral Health Campus at Rutgers University, which has the only peer professional national access center for specialized circumstances of loss including police and Veterans. The helpline offers live, peer based helpline support through the phone or through live chat, and is used in partnership with the Department of Defense and has Memorandums of Agreement with most branches of the Armed Forces. Calls to the Helpline have increased over the years, now averaging between 1,000 and 1,300 calls a month. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Sheri Beck, Program Director” class=”top5″]The most difficult moments faced by surviving families come in the dark of night, during lonely weekends, or on holidays, when many other services and supports are unavailable. Because grief and the needs of the bereaved do not operate on a set timeline, TAPS has chosen to make services and support available to surviving families 24/7/365. [/su_quote]

TAPS uses the American Association of Suicidology's Crisis Call Certification, the Gold Standard for the management of crisis calls. It utilizes the best-informed practices of confidentiality and anonymity, facilities and equipment, support and staffing, and call data statistics.
TAPS uses the American Association of Suicidology’s Crisis Call Certification, the Gold Standard for the management of crisis calls. It utilizes the best-informed practices of confidentiality and anonymity, facilities and equipment, support and staffing, and call data statistics.

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Operation Economic Compass
Veterans Plus
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING Military and Veteran families face unique challenges associated with deployment cycles and reintegration which adds to the difficulties of managing finances, job loss, and sustainable housing in economic downturn compared to the general public.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Operation Economic Compass
Program Name

United States
Location

2010
Start date

Christopher Labadie
Program Director

@VeteransPlus[/su_pullquote]

Operation Economic Compass uses a Veteran to Veteran model to provide a financial education resource for transitioning military members and their families into civilian life. The program conducts seminars and works with service members and Veterans in a classroom setting on budgeting, saving and investing, always following up with a call to address the specifics of money management with participants. After realizing a need for a centralized database to help manage the assistance of individuals and families served, VeteransPlus created The Yellow Ribbon Network to help coordinate the flow of assistance to provide innovative collaboration among nonprofits through a secure records management system. More than 40% of those counseled by VeteransPlus during 2013 for assistance, have called back multiple times for other concerns or advice in other areas of their finances. Through the Yellow Ribbon Network, VeteransPlus partners have referred over 80,000 individuals in the past (5,760 in 2013) to seek financial guidance prior to or a condition of receiving a service. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Christopher Labadie, Program Director” class=”top5″]As a fourth generation Marine, I am constantly amazed by the frightening lack of financial literacy among those who have worn our nation’s uniform. Operation Economic Compass has been honed to meet the changing needs for financial capability among active duty and Veteran families. Our curriculum Ready, Aim -FIRE has been critical in addressing the specific needs of transitioning men and women. [/su_quote]
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Camp Better America Retreat
Camp Better America
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING Returning military families transitioning into civilian life face growing divorce and suicide rates, PTS, parent & child break down. With military cuts effecting the Army’s “Strong Bond” program, there is a significant strain on military relationships.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Camp Better America Retreat
Program Name

United States
Location

2010
Start date

Kathleen Gagg
Program Director

@CampBetterUSA[/su_pullquote]

Camp Better America travels across the United States to offer retreats that expose military families and service members to the nations’ leading experts in fields of mental health, family reintegration, business & financial resources, equine & PTS therapies and children’s art therapy. Operating under the philosophy that “Ranks are left at the door,” the retreat also offers families are given a vacation-like experience where they can relax, let their walls down, and reconnect with each other, in addition to the therapeutic and mental health services. CBA aims to reduce the suicide rate, lower the divorce rate, increase job productivity, ignite more community involvement, and help participating families facilitate more open communication. 90% of married couples that have attended CBA claim the camp saved their marriage. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Kathleen Gagg, Program Director” class=”top5″]It’s our goal to maintain a relationship with all of the families that come to our retreats and continue to offer support, tools, and opportunities to these families as they move forward in life. [/su_quote]


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Fisher Houses
Fisher House Foundation
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING At the over 150 VA Medical Centers across the country, there is currently no free lodging for families in the form of a home. When there is no free lodging, families either do not accompany their loved one to the hospital or they choose to sleep in their cars or find other inadequate lodging.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Fisher Houses
Program Name

United States
Location

1990
Start date

David Coker
Program Director

@FisherHouseFdtn[/su_pullquote]

Fisher Houses provide support to families of military or Veteran patients receiving care at the nearby medical center by offering an immediate solution to the problem, a free place to stay, for as long as they need. In partnership with the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs, there are 62 Fisher Houses across the country. The program operates with the knowledge that when hospital patients have family support, they have a much better and a much faster rate of recovery. Fishers House have a 90% occupancy rate at the 62 Houses nationwide. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Cindy Campbell, Vice President” class=”top5″]Without a free home for their families, many of them would have no support network, no cheerleader to help them and encourage them. A family’s love is the most important factor in healing, Fisher Houses make sure that ingredient is nearby. [/su_quote]

"If my dad wasn't there, I have no idea what I would have done. I didn't know what I was doing there. My recovery time in the hospital would have been substantially longer." - Matt Zajac, a military member who stayed at a Fisher House
“If my dad wasn’t there, I have no idea what I would have done. I didn’t know what I was doing there. My recovery time in the hospital would have been substantially longer.” – Matt Zajac, a military member who stayed at a Fisher House

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Blue Star Careers
Blue Star Families
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING 85% of military spouses need to work, yet the unique features of the military family lifestyle—such as frequent moves, unpredictable work hours, and prolonged service member absences due to deployment—often impede military spouses from maintaining employment and establishing career tenure. Currently, the unemployment rate for military spouses is 26%.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Blue Star Careers
Program Name

United States
Location

2013
Start date

Cristin Orr Shiffer
Program Director

@BlueStarFamily[/su_pullquote]

Blue Star Careers uses a two-pronged approach to address the challenges of military spouse employment: 1) Research, develop and implement initiatives to support military spouse career goals; 2) Educate and engage corporate and political leaders in a conversation about the value of military spouses as a labor resource and a key to military readiness and retention. Blue Star Jobs has established an in-kind partnership with oDesk, in which military spouses find flexible jobs or short-term contract projects that allow them to work remotely and within their unique schedule constraints. In less than one year, BSC resources reached over 10,000 military spouses. Over 1,400 spouses have joined BSC programs and new members join daily. In under one year, BSC has become a trusted partner and resource for government and corporate military spouse employment initiatives. LEARN MORE.

[su_quote cite=”Cristin Orr Shiffer, Program Director” class=”top5″]BSC engages spouses, their communities and employers in a dialogue about the nature and challenges of military lifestyles and why military spouse employees are assets rather than liabilities. It shows hiring spouses is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing, too. [/su_quote]

Since its inception, BSC has developed unique employment programming that takes into consideration the unique challenges of the military lifestyles such as frequent moves, deployments, and poor job market alignment.
Since its inception, BSC has developed unique employment programming that takes into consideration the unique challenges of the military lifestyles such as frequent moves, deployments, and poor job market alignment.

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The Active Duty & Veterans Experts

The Leadership Council is an honorary board comprised of a diverse group of experts that will collectively determine the winners of the CLASSY Awards in this cause sector. Their unique perspective and valuable insight establishes this recognition as one of the highest honors in the social sector.

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Photo credit: Veterans Plus

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