Building Strong Families – a Win-Win for Beaufort and the DoD

The United States military will always be searching for the best ways to win modern wars, but recently senior Defense Department leaders are looking for their next key to winning on the battlefield at the home front.

“The secretary [of Defense] has been crystal clear that taking care of our service members and their families is a sacred obligation and a national security imperative,” was the official statement from Pentagon Press Secretary General Pat Ryder just before the holidays. And the Department of Defense has backed up that statement with a flurry of actions over the last six months. The newest National Defense Authorization Act gives servicemembers a 4.6% pay raise. Basic Allowance for Housing rates for military families were updated this month, with rates seeing an average increase of just over 12%. There are also numerous programs in the works to promote military spouse employment or make military transitions easier such as interstate licensure compacts and an expansion of the Military Childcare in Your Neighborhood program. The emphasis doesn’t stop at the Department of Defense either. The new chairman of the House of Representative’s Armed Services Committee established a panel devoted to “military personnel issues”, which will focus on ways to better support servicemembers and military families.

There are several reasons for this expansive focus on supporting servicemembers and their families on the home front. Recruitment and retention rates have suffered in recent years, and a big reason for that is job satisfaction and quality of life for the military members and their families. The last two decades of war have also established the knowledge that servicemembers are more effective at their warfighting functions when they are confident in their ability to provide for their families and loved ones. The Department of Defense’s focus on making it easier for servicemembers at home will, in theory, make it easier for the servicemember on the battlefield.

This push to invest in quality-of-life issues will also directly and indirectly benefit communities like Beaufort who host a significant military connected population. Military pay and BAH increases mean that the Marines of MCAS Beaufort and MCRD Parris Island have more in their pockets to spend in the local economy. Increased funding into community-building projects such as housing and childcare will also provide additional funding streams and stable, well-paying jobs for those near the military bases. But the biggest takeaway is that the Beaufort area is already positioned at the forefront of this issue. As many sources (including this blog!) have mentioned, Beaufort has quality schools supported by local technical colleges, a high standard of living, outstanding waterfronts, and some of the best recreational opportunities in the Southeast. In short, Beaufort is the perfect place for the DoD to invest in for its push to increase military quality of life. Here’s looking forward to a bright future for Beaufort where military and community interaction can increase the standard of living for not only servicemembers and their families, but all people across the region.

Youth Participant in Project Military Kids at MCAS Beaufort
Youth Participant in Project Military Kids at MCAS Beaufort

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The Military Enhancement Committee (MEC) of Beaufort County Support Fund is a charitable fund administered by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. Its mission is to enhance the quality and value of the military installations of Beaufort County, namely, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Naval Air Station Beaufort, and Beaufort Naval Hospital. The MEC seeks to defend these installations against any threats like closure or natural disaster, while also positioning them for enhancement through personnel, resources, and other opportunities that both benefit the Department of Defense and our region.