DACOWITS members visit II MEF

30 Jun 2005 | Cpl. Edward L. Mennenga

Two members of the Defense Department Advisory Committee On Women In the Services visited II Marine Expeditionary Force Marines and families to see what can be done to improve the quality of life of Marines and their families.

Margaret Hoffmann and Catherine O’Neill, members of DACOWITS, gathered information through focus groups involving II MEF Marines and spouses and a tour of base schools and day care centers. They will combine the information from II MEF with that of military facilities throughout the country in a report to be given to the secretary of defense.

“We ask [men and women] to make recommendations to us about the areas of their life that need some improvement, and we’re able to carry their recommendations back to the department,” said Hoffmann.

DACOWITS was established in 1951 by then Secretary of Defense, George C. Marshall. Originally, the committee was made up of civilian men and women, appointed by the Secretary of Defense, to provide advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the integration and well-being of women in the Armed Forces.

In 2002, the committee was re-chartered to look more closely at family readiness and issues relating to recruitment and retention of a professional military force.

The 2003 and 2004 DACOWITS focus groups identified the difficulty of balancing work and family as the number one reason for leaving the military. The main problem under this theme was due to an inflexible workload and schedule.

Therefore, in 2005 DACOWITS is focusing on work and life balance issues, defined as the management of job obligations, career advancement, personal goals, family life and family responsibilities within the armed forces.

During the II MEF focus groups, DACOWITS members spoke to more than 30 Marines and 7 spouses. Groups were broken down by rank and gender, while another group was made up of dual-military family members. Breaking down the groups in this way allowed DACOWITS members to get a wide view of quality of life throughout II MEF.

“It’s a good experience, because it was a good [opportunity] to hear what other Marines had to say,” said Lance Cpl. Jenna Yang, administrative clerk with II MEF G-3, who took part in one of the focus groups.

After the focus groups, DACOWITS members out-briefed Maj. Gen. Cornell A. Wilson Jr., deputy commander, II MEF and commanding general, II Marine Expeditionary Force Augmentation Command Element.

“[The focus groups] were terrific. We love Marines and it’s always been a real treat to come to a Marine base,” said O’Neill.

The DACOWITS 2005 annual report will be out in early 2006.

Editors note: Some information from this article was gathered from the DACOWITS official website.