Defender 6 sends: Services are delivered, promises are kept

| December 16, 2010 | 0 Comments

Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch
Commander, Installation Management Command



The Army made significant promises when it unveiled the Army Family Covenant in October 2007.

With the covenant, the Army committed to providing Soldiers and families a quality of life that acknowledges their service, sacrifice and dedication — providing programs and services, including family programs, health care, housing, recreation, education, employment opportunities, and child, school and youth services that build Soldier and family well-being, resilience and readiness.

I have the lead for executing the AFC, and that is a charge I take on wholeheartedly, delivering programs and services that help Soldiers and families thrive.

The Installation Management Command community has conducted a holistic review of AFC programs to assess if we have the right programs in place to meet Soldier and family needs. We wanted to know if there were any gaps in services and if we were delivering services effectively. In short, we wanted to know if Soldiers and families could easily get the assistance they need.

Soldiers and families told us that they have both too much and too little information on available services. Sometimes, they did not know that there was a program to help with a specific need. Sometimes, they knew of several programs available through different service providers, but could not tell which would be best for their situation.

So, we have the right programs in place, but can do a better job of helping Soldiers and families access those programs.

We began looking at how we can improve access through a source Soldiers and families already turn to for help and answers: Army Community Service.

ACS does a lot of heavy lifting in delivering on the promises made in the AFC. In fiscal year 2010, ACS staff had more than 14 million contacts with Soldiers, family members and civilians, through programs such as Mobilization/Deployment Readiness, Relocation Readiness, Financial Readiness, Army Emergency Relief, Employment Readiness, the Army Spouse Employment Partnership, the Exceptional Family Member Program, the Family Advocacy Program, Survivor Outreach Services, Soldier and Family Assistance Centers, Army Family Team Building and the Army Family Action Plan.

ACS is often the first place Soldiers and family members go for information, personal development and help in an emergency. We want to build on ACS’s strengths and central role in the life of an installation. So, based on feedback from 10 focus groups conducted in October, we have developed several ideas for enhancing and updating ACS’s capabilities and processes.

One idea we are looking at is transitioning a number of ACS staff into generalist positions. These staff will focus on helping Soldiers and family members navigate services. These staff members will be fully cross-trained in all basic ACS services, be familiar with other services available across the installation and have the tools to do more in-depth assessments of client needs.

With this information, staff will be able to help clients not only access the programs that address their immediate concerns, but also take advantage of programs that help them meet longer-term goals. If clients need specialized assistance, staff members will make sure they see the right person and will follow up until clients have gotten the help they need.

Another idea is for ACS to move out to units, in/out processing centers, post exchanges, commissaries, Soldier Readiness Processing sites, community centers, off-post locations — wherever they need to go to support Soldiers and families in their communities.

ACS will continue to deliver services in traditional ACS centers, and will increase its delivery of services online through, to reach all Soldiers and family members regardless of their location or component.

We will continue to seek feedback on these and other proposed changes during focus groups during my upcoming visits to installations. I want to hear from leaders, Soldiers and family members about what will work for them and how to enhance ACS support. Help us refine our thinking, so we can use your input to design pilot programs at five installations. The pilot programs will run from April to October 2011.

The intent behind these proposals and changes is to ensure that Soldiers and family members can find the right service, at the right time, the first time. There is no wrong door for accessing ACS services. No matter who Soldiers and family members talk with or where they seek services, they have come to the right place. ACS is there for them when they are dealing with today’s concerns and tomorrow’s long-term personal goals.

ACS is by no means the only organization on an installation providing services and programs that contribute to the quality of life for Soldiers and families, but it is often the first place Soldiers and families look to. So, it is a natural place for the IMCOM community to look to, as well, as we continually seek ways to make the delivery of AFC services as effective as possible.

The work of ACS and other quality-of-life services are highly visible, tangible proof that the Army is delivering on AFC promises. Because of the importance of these promises, we take our responsibility for the delivery of services very seriously.

We are committed to providing a strong, supportive environment. The long-term strength of our all-volunteer Army depends on the well-being of Soldiers and families, but more than that, we owe it to our Soldiers and families, for their ongoing service and dedication.

Defender 6.



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Category: Standing Columns

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