CMSAF, Congressional representatives discuss military family life

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By Senior Airman Mary O'Dell, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs / Published August 17, 2014


Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers speaks with other members of the Fairchild Military Family Summit panel during the opening discussion with audience members Aug. 14, 2014, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. This Congressional Military Family Caucus afforded military family members the opportunity to discuss various issues in an open forum, then later broke off into sessions discussing specific topics such as education, healthcare and transitioning from military life. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Mary O'Dell)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AFNS) --

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody participated in a Congressional Military Family Caucus at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Aug. 14, affording more than one hundred military family members the opportunity to discuss various issues with congressional representatives and Air Force leadership.

Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers and Georgia Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr., co-chairs of the Caucus, hosted the event, and gathered information about the issues concerning military families.

"We have a fundamental responsibility to our country to forward the best military options to our leadership, but we can't let that come at the sacrifice of many things that are important and make a difference in every one of our lives," Cody said. "That's why it's important to communicate with our legislature who is there to help keep that balance."

The Congressional Military Family Caucus seeks to educate members of Congress and their staff on resources the military has for families. The overall goal is to bring together members of Congress, administrative officials, service members and their families in a common purpose to draw attention to the needs of military families and advocate legislative ideas on their behalf.

"As the proud representative of Eastern Washington's military community, the issues effecting military families are especially important to me," McMorris-Rodgers explained during the event. "These conversations matter and this Caucus is one that is working to bring your voice to the forefront."

This is the fourth summit held with military families since the CMFC was founded in 2009.

"We can't rest on the progress we have made in the past," Bishop said. "We have to continue to work on areas that need improvement and explore new areas of concern."

Cody's wife, Athena, along with Lt. Col. Lisa McLeod, the 141st Maintenance Squadron commander and Janna Keller, a 92nd Force Support Squadron Airman and family services flight chief, joined Cody and the congressmen as part of the panel that listened and responded to member's concerns during a questions and answers session.

The event also included breakout sessions discussing topics such as education benefits, health and wellness, transitioning from military life and military spouse employment.

"Having the support of our military communities and having these programs in place to help ease transitions and support members is critical," Cody said.

At the event, five Fairchild AFB spouses, Elizabeth Medina-Sanchez, Rachel Ann Martin, Suzanne Antonoff, Brandi Ogren and Jeannine Collins, were recognized as "Eastern Washington outstanding military spouses" by McMorris-Rodgers and Bishop.

Cody noted that while we always tend to appreciate the burden that those who don the uniform carry, the burden our families have is greater.

"The quality of men and women, and moreover the quality of the families that support them and enable them is unprecedented in the history of our country," Cody said. "We have a debt of gratitude to the congressman and congresswoman that they understand and value that and want to make sure we preserve the ability to have this quality, all-volunteer force into the future."

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