Army Secretary Christine Wormuth on Tuesday outlined ways communities can help with some of the Army’s biggest challenges, including recruitment, child care and housing. Here are excerpts of her remarks from a mainstage conversation with ADC President Karen Holt during day two of the Defense Communities National Summit.
On working over the fence line: “After the 9/11 attacks, for understandable reasons, we increased security around our installations and around the Pentagon…. We went inside of ourselves for security purposes. The cascading effect of that is that a lot of Americans don’t see us anymore. That’s especially true in areas where we don’t have large Army installations.”
On recruitment: “What we need to do fundamentally is reintroduce America to the United States Army. We need to get beyond the group of people who aren’t already connected to the U.S. Army.”
On child care: “Any time I do a town hall with soldiers and families, I hear about child care. We’ve built new centers. We’ve raised the minimum wage for staff. It has been a challenge for us to fully staff the child development centers.… I would call on you to let people in your communities know about the employment opportunities with our child care centers, especially in areas where bases are more remote.”
On housing: “A lot of our soldiers and families live off post, and in many cases it’s an inventory problem. There isn’t enough housing. Sometimes when we raise our basic allowance for housing, landlords raise their rent. You can talk to your community leadership about working with landlords to make sure they’re not taking advantage of military families. The other thing communities can do to help us is to get involved with zoning and incentives.”
On the civilian-military divide: “Those of you in communities, the more you can do to help us integrate and be more visible in communities, the better. You can help us tell our Army story. That’s not just about recruiting…. It’s really more about bridging a larger civilian-military divide in our country.”
ADC photo by Will Noonan