Personal Assistance 1
Texas will support military families through Texas Friends of Freedom.
Texas will partner with the military and community-based organizations to establish a program called “Texas Friends of Freedom.” The program will match volunteers with families of Texas military personnel and corporate sponsors to military units. The volunteer organizations managing the program will finance the effort through private donations. Participating state agencies will use existing programs and systems. The state’s leadership could come together in a “Texas-united” public service announcement to kick-off and advertise the program.
Texas needs this program because families of reservists are located across the state and not always near a military base of support. The reduced number of bases nationally means less support available nearby to military families that may need assistance. Additionally, military bases in Texas are hosts to families from across the nation, separated from their normal family support structure, and military families from Texas are located around the world.
The Texas Friends of Freedom program will have three interconnected and coordinated parts: Adopt-a-Military Unit, Adopt-a-Family and Adopt-a-Grandparent. In Adopt-a-Military Unit, community organizations and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), in conjunction with local workforce development boards and chambers of commerce, will identify corporations who will sponsor military units. These organizations will coordinate closely with the organizations involved in the Adopt-a-Family and Adopt-a-Grandparent parts of the program. By adopting military units in the Adopt-a-Military Unit option, corporations could sponsor morale boosters and activities, such as send-offs for units being sent abroad; mentors, tutors and needed resources to children of military personnel; and e-mails to troops associated with their adopted unit. Corporations could also hire spouses or dependents in need of employment or temporarily hire spouses or dependents to fill job positions of reservists called to duty.
In Adopt-a-Family, community organizations will match volunteer families and individuals with families of soldiers and rescue workers. The volunteers will provide moral support and other assistance to families in Texas with spouses or parents stationed away from home or who have military reservists or rescue personnel called up for duty. Texas local community organizations, including faith-based community organizations, schools, hospitals, local officials and corporations, will work together to identify families, individuals and children in the community who would like to help.
In Adopt-a-Grandparent, the program will match volunteer families and individuals with dependent grandparents of soldiers and rescue workers who may need assistance while their caretaker child is away, or who may have to care for grandchildren if both parents are away. The Adopt-a-Grandparent program will receive assistance from and coordinate with the Texas Department on Aging’s programs, which provide comprehensive services, such as nutrition programs, in-home assistance, transportation and respite care to grandparents and senior citizens in every community in Texas.
Military families will apply through their base, military family support group or the nearest Texas National Guard unit, or along with volunteer families, access the program through toll-free hotlines, a website, local community organizations or similar groups. These organizations will match the volunteer families with military families. Local organizations and state agencies will work together to recruit volunteers to help with the matching effort.
Benefits to Texas Families
Spouses and children of Texas military men and women, rescue workers and terrorist victims could benefit from having emotional support from their community. These families could also benefit from having people who could help with daily needs, writing to military personnel to ensure them of their family’s well being and providing Internet access to military children for the purpose of e-mail communication.
Local schools could also have a special role by sponsoring “get-togethers” of Texas military families and friends, ensuring that school-aged children of soldiers have access to e-mail and hosting meals for families in areas where troops are called to arms. Volunteers could be persons from a variety of backgrounds within the community to foster better understanding and cooperation among persons living in America.
Military personnel stationed away from home will have better morale, knowing the support circle for their families had widened and that they have more people to lean on. Being able to focus on their mission could save lives. It could also help sustain the long-term involvement of the American psyche in the war effort, should that be necessary, and will bind communities together.
Participating state agencies will use existing programs and systems. Any additional funding requirements will be met through grants or private donations to nonprofit agencies. To make Texas Friends of Freedom widespread, successful and a model for other states will require the following, at a minimum:
- State leadership support, including televised and radio Public Service Announcements and encouragement of citizens to volunteer;
- Agreement from the statewide leadership of appropriate military support and community organizations to partner with the state and engage in the program and agreement from one of the organizations to coordinate the overall effort;
- Agreement from the military to cooperate and support the effort;
- Establishment of a separate “Texas Friends of Freedom” fund in the partner non-profit organizations to accept and distribute donations on behalf of the effort;
- Corporate sponsorship;
- Contributions of “bricks and mortar,” such as, office space, a toll-free hotline, phone banks, computers, supplies, and a database to track volunteers and resources and appropriately match them with military families;
- Quality training of volunteers;
- An evaluation plan; and
- Paid, professional administrative staff to coordinate the overall effort.