A Twitter chat is like a meeting on Twitter; it has a specific discussion topic and a scheduled start time. Using the hashtag #MilCents at the end of each tweet, MFAN will ask questions to a group of financial experts.
Here at the Military Family Advisory Network, our approach to our mission is unique. It is guided by our research (which is only possible through your trust in us and your willingness to share your stories), our diverse group of peer advisors and alumni (who share with us what they’re hearing in communities at home and overseas), and our ability to take what we learn and bring the right people and organizations to the table to address the challenges you face and create data-driven solutions.
The coalitions we have founded and convene, enable MFAN to bring together teams of people who share a common mission but provide diverse perspectives. Learning from each other and working together, we are able to provide a laser focus on the issues you’ve told us most significantly affect the quality of your life.
At present, MFAN convenes three coalitions – the Military Family Food Insecurity Coalition (MFFIC), the Military Family Financial Readiness Coalition (MFFRC), and the Military Housing Roundtable (MHR). Each coalition shares the following goals: data-driven collaboration with key participant organizations to raise awareness of the targeted issue, the identification of resources that are currently available to meet immediate needs, and the development of programs that will provide sustainable solutions in the future.
MFAN began hearing about food insecurity in 2017 when our peer advisory members regularly shared stories of families they knew who struggled to have enough food. We introduced a line of food insecurity questions in the 2017 Military Family Support Programming Survey to learn more about the problem and heard from military and veteran respondents who were facing food insecurity. In 2018, armed with this information, we convened the Military Family Food Insecurity Coalition to help develop solutions that drive awareness and access to programs alleviating food insecurity.
Concurrent with our efforts convening the coalition, MFAN continued to seek a better understanding of this problem. In our 2019 Military Family Support Programming Survey, our research team made use of the USDA 6-Item Short Form Food Security Scale to assess the scale of the problem of military families experiencing food insecurity. We learned that 12.7% of survey respondents were food insecure. Our research platform also allowed our research team to analyze the data on a regional scale, using ZIP codes to identify key areas of concern that will help to influence MFAN’s strategy in the fight against food insecurity moving forward.
COVID-19 has further impacted military families and their ability to provide food for their families. MFAN has launched a special release survey to better understand this impact, share what we learn with our MFFIC participants, and tailor our response to best support military families.
Stay tuned for updates from MFAN about how we’ll be making a real difference in the fight against food insecurity!
The Military Family Financial Readiness Coalition was initially convened by MFAN to fill the gap created by the discontinuation of the DoD Financial Readiness Roundtable which had, until that time, been one of the primary mechanisms for coordination and collaboration across organizations with a vested interest in supporting military families’ financial wellness. We met as a steering committee in November 2018 and held the first coalition meeting in January 2019.
MFAN continues to expand the coalition as allies of military financial wellness are identified and introduced to the mission of the MFFRC. Participants include federal agencies and both public and private organizations that provide financial education resources, conduct research on military family financial readiness, and/or have extensive means for reaching military families through influential communications channels.
Together, coalition participants share ideas, lessons learned, best practices, challenges, and opportunities to collaboratively address the financial education needs of the modern military family. Not only does the MFFRC inform the work of its participants in their financial education efforts and initiatives, it also yields actionable information that educates and informs policy makers.
Data from the 2017 Military Family Support Programming Survey and feedback from our Advisory Board showed that military families were dealing with frequent issues with privatized military housing. Realizing the need for more data, MFAN launched a follow-up questionnaire in January 2019 that identified a significant disconnect between the feedback we received and what was being reported by privatized housing companies. Nearly 17,000 military family members responded, and the report garnered over 500 million earned media impressions.
The steering committee for the Military Housing Roundtable met in November 2019 and the first meeting of the coalition was convened by MFAN in February 2020. That meeting was attended by Senator Thom Tillis and Senator Mark Warner. Its initial goal was to build on the momentum of the privatized housing survey release and subsequent impact on legislation and funding priorities and to prioritize safe housing for military families living in privatized military housing. For that reason, the first year of the MHR focused on issues related to privatized military housing. However, we are aware that approximately 70% of military families live off-base. Coalition efforts are now focused not just on sustaining recent gains for on-base families but ensuring that ALL military families have access to healthy, safe, and affordable housing.
We look forward to sharing the MHR’s new housing resource document, designed for families living on and off base, soon!
These coalitions founded and convened by MFAN represent what MFAN does best— identify the key issues that affect military families and bring the right people together to respond to those issues quickly and effectively.
If you’re interested in additional information or have any questions regarding the coalitions MFAN convenes, feel free to reach out to Erin Kahn, MFAN Response Coordinator, at [email protected]
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