What Military Family Programs Should They Cut?


A new story from the Army Times highlights an unprecedented plan from the Defense Department to examine family support and recreation programs, identify redundancies, and axe the ones that aren’t necessary.

If you feel like this plan to examine programs rings a bell – it should. The individual services, specifically the Army, regularly proclaim their intention to do this or give updates on how it’s going. But this is the first time the review will be done at DoD level. As the article points out, this review has nothing to do with sequestration, or so they claim.

Nonetheless, the whole thing sounds like a great idea. Except it means that a program or two — which are undoubtedly someone’s favorite, most treasured activities — are going to go away.

The problem is how they are supposed to choose which programs stay and which ones go.

The folks who are doing the review say they’ll be gathering information from “enlisted troops and families through focus groups or other means.” But that doesn’t give a lot of clarity as to what their criteria will be.

We’ve given our advice before to military officials on just how to pick which program to kick to the curb. But this time I want to know from you, dear reader, what programs you feel should be given a particularly hard look.

They say there are redundancies, we KNOW there are redundancies … but what are they?

You tell us.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • wittylittlesecret

    What would be nice is some consolidation and a recognition of existing nonprofits that could be utilized. There are an awful lot of programs out there recreating each other’s entire wheelhouses, and recreating government services and – sometimes – doing a better job. I was at AUSA when Gen. Odierno discussed bringing all of these nonprofits together, but, as you point out, I haven’t heard anything about it since then.

    • Amy_Bushatz

      Interestingly enough, WLS, they discuss that Every. Single. Year. What’s keeping them from doing anything is actually the law (groooooan). The military needs the ability to approach existing non-profits with ideas so that they can collaborate. As it stands they are blocked from doing so — the non-profits, who never understand the needs and therefore don’t know what to do — have to make the first move. Then the military can accept. Lame, right?

  • Katie

    I think the privatization of housing is one of the largest wastes of money ever. When the military ran things, people weren’t charged for wear and tear like they are now. When we moved out of one house, the property management told us the wrong shade of white to touch up areas when we moved out. When we did our pre-move-out the guy told us to paint the whole house and the wouldn’t charge us, so we bought more paint and painted the entire inside. THey charged us for repainting ANYWAYS. When the military ran things, this never would have happened. They would have been happy with the freshly painted house. People took care of their neighborhoods, and planted flowerbed and vegetable gardens to beautify their neighborhoods, and now people can’t do any of those things, they can’t make their place home for whatever amount of time they are there. I would like to see the military eliminating programs that are available in the civilian locale, such as the YMCA or Boys and Girls club, and making those institutions better. (Two heads are better than one, right?) If the military can’t approach them, then how about a spouse drop by and let them know that the military cannot approach them and tell them if they would like help with funding, all they have to do is approach the military. Make some of the perks more sustainable, such as charging (more) in the theaters, golf clubs, or the pools, but reasonably so. I think that allowing a spouse to have preference in DoD positions is a good enough employment program. MyCAA is redundant with the Federal Pell Program in my opinion, as it only applies to Associate degree equivalencies. My $0.02.

    • MilSpouse

      Excellent suggestions! I didn’t think about the movie theater, the pool, golf course, etc. Yes, we pay WAY less so there’s room for charging more.

      • CDS

        The challenge is that a number of those, at least in the Air Force, are what we can N.A.F., or Non-appropriated funds, facilities. That means that they don’t get money from the federal budget. Their funds come from their profits. So increasing the intake at these facilities may still not reach other programs.

        As an example, our base “movie theater” recently turned back into just an auditorium with a screen and projection booth. They don’t play movies there because it wasn’t bringing in enough funds to keep its doors open. It was not getting funding from other programs.

  • Sabrina

    I will echo what many say here regarding privatized housing being axed or atleast restructured. I’d also say before anyone goes axing recreation, MWR etc just across the board, you have to take into consideration where each individual duty station is. Some duty stations are so remote, there is nothing else there but the duty station ie: FT Drum. Some duty stations are in large metropolitan areas ie: Joint Base Lewis McChord. Clearly, any duty station in a major metropolitan area doesn’t need as many recreational activities etc. I am on the fence on spouse employment issues. I can tell you, we transferred some of the GI bill for my Masters and we paid for the rest. My qualms wth MyCAA were not other peoples qualms, mine was it really didn’t do anything for anynore who already had any measure of formal education. However, having at one time been a junior enlisted family, I know there were years E3-E5 I had to work to help put food on the table. I already had a Bachelors degree so it was easier for me. We need to be mindful not to disenfranchise junior enlisted families.

  • Sabrina

    My husband’s list:
    Cut the NEC: people making 80 to 100k a year to do a soldiers job and it takes them 3 weeks to do the job that would take a soldier 1 day
    Cut the contracted cooks at the DFAC…the Army has cooks, let them cook
    He’s going too fast for me to type…basically in a nutshell he’d like to see contracting went through with a fine comb.

  • MilSpouse

    I would like to see the contract guards at the gates disappear. The Army has MPs … and one of their jobs is to guard things …. so please bring back the MPs to the gates and let them do that job, and cancel the contract for the GS employees on the gates.

    • YZP

      They are in the process of cutting that now. A lot of the civilians employed by the military will be facing the cut here shortly from what I understand. I agree that the contract guards need to go. I hate saying that because it sounds callous (many men and women are going to lose a job that they depend on to take care of their families) but its true. The military spends millions training our men and women LE/MP’s so lets use them. They have been guarding gates for years. What was the need for the contractors?

      • CDS

        Because, in some cases, they’re deploying the MPs who would otherwise be used at home station.

        In the case of the Air Force, we were confronted by the fact that nobody, save for a few such as some fighter crews, bomber crews, and special operations airmen, comes home and just trains for the next time they go to war. All of our people used to operate our forward airbases are pulled piecemeal from the units back home. It doesn’t matter if it’s contracting, the legal office, air traffic control, the engineering squadron, or even our cops. Home station units lose personnel so those people can deploy and run the bases downrange.

        Security, however, can only be automated so much. There are some things you need a body there for. So if I need all my military bodies downrange, I’m using civilian contractors at home station because, among other things, they’re not deploying and I’m not providing them with many of the costly benefits that would be inurred using active, guard, or reserve military personnel.

  • Fairfax
  • Another thing to look at, we have many “purple” posts and bases here we have commands and contingents of multiple services, not just Army or Air Force or whatever. On those posts, services should be consolidated and maybe we should be looking at military-wide services and not just Army in my case. As an example, army Onesource morphed into Military Onesource. How about turning Army Community Service into Military Community Service. I’ve volunteered there….many of the jobs can be turned into volunteer positions alone….another money drain. I bet we could cut some programs and still have great quality of life, and I too cringe when military dependents have a sense of entitlement when something isn’t free….I mean it’s nice when it happens, and I’m not saying your servicemember and you didn’t sacrifice and deserve these benefits and should be recognized…but when the money isn’t there, we need to take an honest look at things at everything, regardless of how long the program or benefit has been around.

  • Mary West (Ret.)

    I would like to see military posts stop busing school age living in post housing to schools 15 miles from post. If there is a school 2 miles away-use it. THIS is a MAJOR foolish use of funds that could be used for necessary services on posts. Military posts use civilians so civilians can have jobs. These jobs could be given to spouses and dependents of military to help military families finances. Too many security risks with too many contract civilians on military posts.

  • Sarah

    I fear the programs that may be cut are not properly represented. My personal experience as a spouse was amazed at all the Army offers. Through volunteering and PX Kiosk sales, I got the evidence that most F/M and soldiers are not aware of these programs and resources. So I say keep the basic deployment support programs but not add anymore to it. Reinventing the wheel has taken us from around 70 official programs to over 300. ACS to include Resiliency and FMWR need to stay. I feel they need to be regularly, mandatorily represented at all FRG’s by the volunteers/leader. I have submitted my idea in detail. I pray our leaders really listen to the families most then the employees and continue to provide the most needed support.

  • OMG = ObamaMustGo!

    Sell off Soeto’s golf clubs . . . eBay for starters.
    Cut first family trips to South America and some of the White House staff!
    FREEZ congress and senates pay until MEANINGFUL employment/jobs
    numbers are shown via a Independent evaluation!
    Stop treating the WH dog better then a GI’s wife or child.