Military Families and Veterans Action Summit

Military families in the United States are facing enormous challenges. Since 2001, more than two million troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Fifty-five percent are married and 40 percent have two children. More than 27 percent have self-reported depression post-deployment, compounding the emotional and financial stress on their spouses and children. No single private or government entity is equipped to address these issues.

The purpose of IslandWood's Military Families and Veterans Action Summit, convened by Senator Patty Murray, is to bring together non-profit, government, military, philanthropy, and academic leaders to develop collaborative solutions to military family and veteran issues. Together we will establish a clear definition of the true needs for veterans and military families, create a model for a spectrum of support that leverages specialties of each sector, and produce a plan to raise awareness among the public and decision makers for these critical issues.  

Senator Patty Murray

Click here to watch a video about the Military Action Summit.

Join the conversation: #forcesforchange

2013 Military Action Summit


The 2013 Military Families and Veterans Action Summit was attended by local and national leaders in the movement to improve the lives of military families, including a representative from Joining Forces, the White House initiative led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, and Colonel James P. Isenhower, III Special Assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Director of Warrior and Family Support.  Colonel David Sutherland gave the keynote address on Wednesday evening. Colonel Sutherland culminated his 29 years of service following Brigade Command, as the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is the co-founder and Chairman of the Center for Military and Veterans Community Services (Dixon Center).

Summary Report

The Summary Report on the Military Families and Veterans Action Summit was prepared by the USC School of Social Work: Center for Innovation and Research on Military Families. The report highlights the groundwork that has been laid to create collaborative frameworks to empower military families and veterans. Read the report here.


Thank You to Our Sponsors



2014 Military Action Summit


The 2014 IslandWood Military Families and Veterans Action Summit, convened by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Derek Kilmer, will bring together leaders in Education, Employment, Military Families, and Outdoor Health and Recreation to create collaborative strategies to better serve military families and veterans in Washington State. Our goal is to become a nationwide model for collective impact on military families and veterans issues. 


Thank You to Our Sponsors





2014 Military Summit Agenda



Monday - August 4th, 2014


10:30-12:00PM     Check-in

12:00-12:30PM     Welcome

Representative Derek Kilmer (WA – 6) Welcoming Remarks

IslandWood Welcome by Martin LeBlanc, SVP - External Affairs

12:30-1:30PM     Lunch

1:30-2:30PM      Collective Impact Address by Alfie Alvarado, Director - WA Department of Veterans Affairs

Lead Introductions:


Military Families


Outdoor Recreation/Therapy

Commitment/Challenge Discussions

2:30-5:00PM     Breakout Session #1


Sector 1) Employment, Led by Jeremy Grisham | Project Specialist - Veterans Conservation Corps at Washington State Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Focus: Spousal Employment 

The employment group is comprised of public workforce development leaders and private-sector employers.  The goal of the group is to bridge the divide between the military and their civilian counterparts by drawing attention to the leadership potential of veterans in business roles.  The Employment group has brought in several subject matter experts in veteran employment to highlight unique case studies that have been developed in Washington State and across the country.  These experts will be facilitating practical exercises to further solidify strategies for employing and retaining top military family talent, including a special emphasis on military spouses.


Sector 2) Military Families, Led by Alecia R. Grady | Chief, Armed Forces Community Service, Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Focus: Transitions

The Military Families Sector will explore how the current draw down is impacting families of veterans. Military families are impacted by this transition in many ways: the spouse may be seeking employment or higher education; the children may be changing from a military school system to a public school system; and the family may be moving to a new home or region. The Military Family Sector will work to ensure that family members have access to the latest information on how to best handle the transition along with their service member.  Creating partnerships with public and private entities that support family members is vital to their success. 


Sector 3) Education, Led by Peter Schmidt, PSY.D | Project Director, Veterans Training Support 

Focus: Preparation and Integration

Data from the DOD shows that service members cite education benefits as the number reason for enlisting. In Washington State alone, the number of veterans seeking higher education opportunities increased 12% in 2012. Many will encounter health, financial, and cultural challenges during the transition. The Education Sector will review state and national veteran initiatives and explore strategies to increase access, retention, and academic success of student veterans and their family members. Two key questions include: How can the Washington state higher education system better serve the needs of this culturally unique population? And, what collaborations between state and federal agencies will lead to streamlined processes?


Sector 4) Outdoor Recreation/Therapy, Led by Joshua Brandon | Outdoors Military Organizer, Sierra Club

Focus: Mental and Physical Health Benefits

The Wellness Sector will focus on how to connect Washington State service members and veterans with medical, outdoor therapeutic and recreational resources. Increasing the number of opportunities for service members, veterans, and their families to explore the great outdoors is a strategy to decreases rates in suicides, divorce, and mental health issues which are all on the rise in the military community. New research reveals that outdoor activity improves the mental and social health resilience of service members prior to deployment and helps reduce post-deployment stress related physical disabilities, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, depression, and other social reintegration challenges.

5:00-6:00PM     Break

6:00-7:00PM     Dinner

7:00-9:00 PM    Evening Program - Discussions with keynote speakers: 

Colonel Daniel Walrath and Christine Walrath

Madeline Lanza

Rick Nelson



Tuesday - August 5th, 2014


6:30-7:30AM     Early Breakfast, Trails Open to All Guests

7:30-8:30AM     Breakfast

8:30-9:00AM     A National Perspective - Remarks by Colonel James P. Isenhower, III Special Assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

9:00-10:00AM   Panel Discussion: Forces for Change - A Business Perspective Moderated by Kristine Holway of Philanthropy Northwest


The Boeing Company: Gina Breukelman | Global Corporate Citizenship, NW Region Community Investor: Health and Human 

Walmart: Ron Wagner | Regional HR Director

Chase: Cat Martin | Senior Program Associate, Pacific Northwest, Global Philanthropy

Prudential Financial: Raymond Weeks | Executive Leader

10:00-12:00PM     Breakout Session #2

Establish recommendations developed from Breakout Session #1 discussions:

Sector 1) Employment

Focus: Spousal Employment


Sector 2) Military Families

Focus: Transitions


Sector 3) Education

Focus: Preparation and Integration


Sector 4) Outdoor Recreation/Therapy

Focus: Mental and Physical Health Benefits

12:00-12:45PM   Lunch

12:45-1:45PM    IslandWood Outdoor Activity

1:45-2:00PM     Featured Short Film

2:00-2:30PM     Action Summit Challenge - Remarks by Senator Patty Murray (D – WA)

2:30-5:00PM     Washington State Action Plan with Graphic Facilitator Steven Wright

5:00-6:00PM     Commitment Ceremony

6:00-7:00PM     Celebration Dinner 

8:00-10:00PM    Campfire Program Led by Alfie Alvarado, Director - WA Department of Veterans Affairs



Wednesday - August 6th, 2014


6:30-8:00PM     Early Breakfast, Trails Open to All Guests

8:00-9:00AM    Breakfast

Checkout by 9:30AM


2015 Military Action Summit



The 2015 Military Families and Veterans Action Summit will focus on building unity of effort across public and private sectors to better serve the military community in Washington State through outdoor engagement and workforce development.

Why Washington State?

According to the 2012 US census, Washington State ranks 6th among states with active duty military members. The state is home to 632,200 veterans and nearly 104,000 active duty military personnel, which accounts for approximately 11 percent of the state’s population. Yet services for the military community remain fragmented, making it difficult for veterans and their families to receive the support they need. 

Why the Outdoors?

Connecting veterans to outdoor recreation opportunities in Washington State will have positive outcomes for health, economy, and conservation and provide a more skilled workforce.

  • Health: Outdoor recreation is an effective form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. A 2013 report prepared by the University of Michigan found that veterans who participated in group outdoor recreation activities were more likely to report improvements in psychological well being, social functioning, and life outlook.
  • Economy and Workforce: In Washington State alone, outdoor recreation creates nearly 200,000 direct jobs, accounts for $21.6 billion in consumer spending, and generates $2 billion in local and state taxes. The amount of direct jobs created is comparable to those created by the tech industry and the aerospace industry. ​​