Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno warned that continuation of cutting military budget will severely hurt soldiers\' family programs. \"It\'s still a top priority and the money that were going to spend on families says it\'s a top priority, but it\'s not the amount of money that we once had,\" Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said in a town hall forum at the annual Association of the United States Army Meeting and Exposition. \"It\'s important for us to understand what we need to do as we go forward,\" Voice of Russia reported. The Defense Department faces about $500 billion in automatic cuts known as sequestration through 2021. That\'s in addition to almost $500 billion in reductions already included in 2011 deficit-reduction legislation. The first installment totaled about $37 billion and began March 1 after lawmakers were unable to reach an alternative agreement on taxes and spending. The second installment totals about $52 billion and is set to take effect Jan 1. As Army Secretary John McHugh told Military.com, the Defense Department has to reconsider its spending and make sure that the funding programs are the ones that most valuable. US army leaders noted that family members can help control what programs get the axe by submitting comments. \"Don\'t let us do this in a vacuum in the Pentagon,\" McHugh said. \"We\'re going to have to change … and absent your input we\'ll make those decisions. But I am very confident that doing it by ourselves is not the way to go about it, and the quality of the product will not be what it should be if we have your guidance.\"