CFB COMOX — Anna Boyechko is determined to be a voice for military families in British Columbia.
“I actually applied twice before to be on the National Military Family Council (NMFC),” said Boyechko, “I really wanted to be an advocate for families.”
The NMFC was designed to give military families an opportunity to influence change and ensure their needs are heard by Canadian Armed Forces leadership. The Council is a volunteer advisory body which provides the Chief of the Defence Staff with the view of families regarding military service and how it impacts spouses, children and relatives.
“There is a misconception that the NMFC is linked to the Military Family Resource Centres,” said Boyechko. “We communicate and liaise with the MFRCs in our respective geographical areas, but we are independent. CAF Leadership looks to us for awareness of issues and possible solutions.”
Boyechko was appointed to the 12-member NMFC in late September 2013. She is a Registered Nurse with more than 20 years of experience and currently works for the Island Health Authority in a clinical support role.
She comes from an extensive military family; both her brother and sister-in-law are CAF members, and her husband is an RCAF construction engineering officer. Along with her husband and two children, she has lived in military communities across Canada, including Gagetown, Winnipeg, Moncton and Abbotsford, currently residing in Comox.
Among the issues Boyechko plans to focus on during her two-year term are issues of spousal employment, child care and helping military families succeed despite their often-transient lifestyles. Knowing that moving can be stressful, one of her biggest priorities is to foster resiliency in military families to help people through these transition periods. Recently, the NMFC was tasked by the chief of military personnel to discover more about the issues that families experience with the moving process.
“Recently the council and Military Family Services pushed the provinces to waive a 90-day waiting period for health cards when military families arrive in a new province,” said Boyechko. “This is just one example of how we can succeed in tweaking social services at a local and national level to help the moving process.”
One of the challenges Boyechko is facing is the fact that the definition of “military family” is changing.
“We are now dealing more with extended families, so we need to include support for the parents of single members — or whomever a member considers family.”
As part of her duties, Boyechko likes to meet with families face-to-face to discuss their concerns. However, given the wide geographical range she must cover, including Esquimalt and mainland B.C., she has also taken to using social media in addition to coffee groups.
“I want to put many peoples’ experiences forward, not just my own, and what people tell me is confidential,” said Boyechko. “Ultimately the council is a safe place to share concerns and it serves as a straight path to leaders within the CAF.”
To learn more about the National Military Family Council, visit www.familyforce.ca/sites/NMFC/EN/Pages/default.aspx. Anna Boyechko can be e-mailed at email@example.com.