Under the auspices and leadership of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, a first-ever National Summit on Courts and the Military was convened in March 2015 at the U.S. Infantry Museum outside the gates of Fort Benning, in Columbus, Georgia. The focus and goal of the Summit was to create the groundwork for a collaborative relationship between the courts and the many military institutions, civilian agencies, and government departments who serve and assist military families in need who access the civilian court systems. Years in the planning, the Summit organizers brought together nearly 100 individuals representing all branches of government and the military: state court judicial leaders from across the country; armed forces personnel including former commanding officers; federal executive departments of Office of the Secretary of Defense and Veterans Affairs; federal and state legislators; various service organizations for military families, together with academic, research, and policy groups with a keen interest in the welfare of the military family.
The goal of the National Summit was met, as participants developed action plans both modest and large. They identified current assets and noted the challenges and barriers that exist in achieving effective coordination of systems and organizations. As a group, they stand poised to assist military-connected families in the state court systems in a more informed, transparent, and effective manner.
The National Summit on Courts and the Military succeeded in generating information-sharing, excitement, and resounding commitment from this multi-disciplinary group of participants, with keen interest from these top leaders and experts for future collaborative work. Available funding will enable the vital work to continue, and cement the connections and goodwill between organizations and leaders formed at this Summit.