Military families still face great uncertainty even as some parts of the nation and military start to continue to pre-pandemic operations, according to panelists at the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative’s Thursday virtual town hall, “Strategies for Career & Family Post COVID-19.”

DOD leaders are paying attention to the situations facing families and planning for changes in areas such as child care, said Maj. Gen. Tammy Smith, military assistant to the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs.

“We’re going have some unique challenges as our child development centers and our youth programs begin to open up a little bit, because capacity then will take on a bit of a different number,” Smith said. “We’re looking at that very closely in balancing that the health of those children is first and foremost but understanding that the capacity that may have existed on an installation at this time last year might be squeezed a little bit as we put in those safety factors.”

Many service members have been concerned with how a telework environment has impacted promotions, evaluations and their careers, said Chief Master Sgt. Chad Pryor, chief of Air Force personnel programs.

“What I would recommend is that if you’re in an environment where you have those concerns about your evaluation going forward, just reach out directly to your supervisor and ask if they want to… have some direct communication.”

Military families are accustomed to change and uncertainty, but the current situation is tricky because so many things are conditional, including PCS moves that will start to resume, said Ellyn Dunford, spouse of former Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford.

“You may have adjusted to where you are now and your current situation, but we know it’s going to change, and for a lot of people, that’s a huge source of stress,” she said. But I think this is one of those chances where you have to sit down to [think through] all the what-ifs. What if this, what if that? What are the pros and cons? And, also, what can we do to mitigate the circumstances?”

Army photo by Eric Pilgrim