WASHINGTON — Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work faced questions, including some tough ones, from high school students at a national training seminar for children from military families.
The average child in a military family will move six to nine times during a school career.
Work joined the conversations with five high school students from the Military Child Education Coalition Student 2 Student program, a student led organization that supports kids from both military and civilian families by building a positive environment for the newcomers in schools and helping them get adjusted to new schools.
Secretary Work shared his own experiences growing up in a military family, and talked about issues such as benefits for military families, the future of the American military and the diversity of its personnel. Questions were collected from more than 20 participating schools.
They weren’t easy ones. He was pressed about cuts in benefits. Looking at the situation in totality, Work argued that “We have a benefits package that is truly world class,” including enlistment bonuses, health care, and the G.I. Bill, guaranteeing college aid for military veterans.
Asked about how the military recruits, Work promised that the Defense Department will do its best to work with Congress to keep attracting the best and the brightest into the American armed forces.
“Morals are grounded in everything we do,” he said. When commanders make a decision to commit forces to the battlefield, they agonize over the potential for collateral in a civilian population.
One of his least favorite assignments working at the Pentagon is testifying before Congress, he said.
According to the Department of Defense 2014 demographics report, there are about 1.1million children in active-duty military families.
“I just want to say to all of you who have gone through the pressure of constant moves, the constant stress of one or both of the spouses being away from the families,” Work said. “Family is absolutely the key to the strength of the joint force. On behalf of the secretary (Ash Carter) and me, I just want to thank all of you, whether you know it or not, you volunteer to serve the nation also, and you are doing it fantastically.”