AFC continues its commitment to provide resources to families

| October 28, 2010 | 0 Comments

Vanessa Lynch
News Editor

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii’s primary goal is to improve the quality of life of its Soldiers and families, especially as, since 2004, Hawaii’s Soldiers and families have experienced continuous deployments resulting in rising levels of stress. 

In response, USAG-HI and the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, USAG-HI, have implemented several Army Family Covenant, or AFC, initiatives to expand, improve and standardize services in all program areas to alleviate stress and to support retention of Soldiers and families.

Introduced Armywide in the fall of 2007, the AFC promise provides active duty, National Guard and Reserve Soldiers, and their loved ones, with uniform family programs proportionate to their service and sacrifice.

In the words of Pete Geren, then secretary of the Army, and Gen. George Casey Jr., chief of staff of the Army, “Never before in the history of our Army have we asked so much of our families. They are serving side-by-side with our Soldiers, enduring their hardships and providing the unconditional love and support that truly make our Army strong. The (AFC) pledges our commitment to support Soldiers and their families and resource programs to provide them a quality of life commensurate with their service.”

AFC is now in its third year, and the commitment is enduring. The Army has made significant progress in improving family programs, health care, housing, child and youth services, recreation, education and employment opportunities. However, work is still progressing to build an environment where Army families can prosper and realize their full potential.

Army senior leaders recommitted themselves to the promises they first made in 2007, to improve quality of life services to Soldiers and their family members, with the re-signing of the AFC, here, in March of this year. The agreement was first signed by senior leadership in Hawaii, Nov. 1, 2007.

“Whenever we can improve the quality of the lives of Soldiers, we do,” said Lauressa Reese, AFC coordinator and marketing specialist, Community Recreation Division, DFMWR, USAG-HI. 

MWR offers discounts and provides Soldiers and family members with resources that attempt to equal the services they provide for the nation, Reese said.

FMWR offers an array of AFC-inspired activities, including the Blue Star Card program, a card for spouses and families of combat-deployed Soldiers, which offers programs, discounts and specials from area businesses specially designed for cardholders. Examples include 10-percent off at Hale Koa restaurants and shows, 10-percent off craft classes at arts and crafts centers in U.S. Army-Hawaii, 12 days of free pet care at Schofield pet kennels, and webcam access and video teleconferencing capability at ACS.  

New facilities, funded in part by AFC, include the Outdoor Recreation Center, the Sports Field Complex, and the School Age Center, as well as improved transportation opportunities for youth to programs and activities. 

AFC discounts golf greens fees, bowling and  welcome-home concerts; it offers free fitness classes for Soldiers and family members; and expands outdoor recreation programming here. Programs offered include high-ropes courses, paintball and scuba diving. All fitness centers also received new weight and cardio equipment through the AFC bulk-buy program.

Soldiers are reintegrated through Warrior Adventure Quest, which receives AFC funds. This program has been enhanced locally, to include behavioral health liaisons from local medical commands as additional participants, resulting in behavioral health referrals. 

In addition, Army Community Service increased staffing by seven and added/expanded five of its services. Staff expansion has enabled ACS to provide several additional services and increase the number of Soldiers and families assisted here.  

 

Current AFC initiatives include these free services:

  • Fitness classes. 
  • Registration and re-registration at Child, Youth and School Services. 
  • Pet care for spouses of deployed Soldiers.

Extended hours at: 

  • Sgt. Yano Library, Schofield Barracks and the Aliamanu Military Reservation Library. 
  • Information, Ticketing and Reservation Offices at Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter.
  • Martinez and Fort Shafter Physical Fitness Centers. 
  • Schofield’s Outdoor Recreation facility. 

Enhanced child care options include these: 

  • Free Child, Youth and School Services registration fees. 
  • Free Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills Unlimited classes. 
  • Free youth sports classes.
  • Free respite care. 
  • Free hourly or “Kids on Site” care for mandatory deployment-related meetings. 
  • Discounted hourly care and reduced full/part-time care for wounded warriors’ and fallen warriors’ families. 
  • Increased respite care opportunities for members of the Exceptional Family Member Program. 

Locally, 14 of the original 15 Army Family Covenant initiatives are still in operation. Free towels are no longer offered at gymnasiums.

 

Category: Community, Special Inserts

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