Today, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden and Admiral William H. McRaven signed a Memo of Understanding betweenthe U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to increase support services for military families. The MOU allows the USDA supported Cooperative Extension System and Land Grant Universities to work directly with USSOCOM to conduct research and develop programs for military families of Special Operations Units on issues such as personal financial management, health and nutrition, child care and youth empowerment.
"The USDA and the Department of Defense have a longstanding relationship in support of service members and their families" said Deputy Secretary Harden. "This agreement allows us to extend similar support to Special Operations
Forces by developing programs and services that help improve the quality of life for military family members. From offering workshops and classes about financial management for families, to creating positive youth development environments for military kids, to promoting healthy lifestyles, the USDA stands at the ready to serve."
"We are very grateful for USDA's support to our special operations warriors and their families," said Admiral McRaven. "One of the fundamentals of special operations is that people are more important than hardware. This partnership exemplifies that truth. By facilitating access to a magnitude of valuable and credible family support programs and research through land grant universities, USDA will play a vital role in strengthening our force's resiliency and mission readiness."
This MOU builds on a current MOU between USDA and the Department of Defense to strengthen child, youth and family programs for military personnel and their families. That agreement was signed by Dr. Roger N. Beachy, former Director of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and Dr. Clifford L. Stanley, for Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) in 2010.
Under that agreement, the USDA supported Cooperative Extension System and Land Grant Universities and DoD are engaged in a 10 year effort to leverage each other's resources and expertise in support ofmilitary families. Successful efforts have included the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State University[http://www.militaryfamilies.psu.edu/], an interactive, knowledge-based platform for helping professionals supporting military families to enhance their program implementation and assessment activities, the Military Extension Internship Program at Purdue University [http://www.ydae.purdue.edu/military/] that recruits college students through internship training to help meet the workforce development needs in military child and youth programs, and a Virtual Lab School at Ohio State
University [https://www.virtuallabschool.org/] dedicated to online professional development for military child care providers.
The MOU was signed at the Agriculture Outlook Forum, the USDA's annual conference of over 1,800 agricultural, Land Grant University and Cooperative Extension leaders. The signing ceremony followed a conference panel discussing USDA services for military veterans.