FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - This month's article highlights one of the many programs available to support spouses and family members of deploying Soldiers.

As thousands of families prepare for the many challenges that these deployments bring, the entire garrison team remains committed to taking care of your family members while you are deployed.

While the benefits of these programs can never make up for the hardship of prolonged absences from loved ones, they do serve as a small token of our appreciation and respect for deploying Soldiers and the families who stay behind.

This month we will highlight the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) Blue Star Card program.

<b>The "F" in FMWR</b>
To some who haven't picked up on the change, it is no longer MWR, but across the Army, all garrison programs have been renamed FMWR: Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, to call attention to the important role family members play as part of the "Army Strong Team."

Additionally, have you noticed the word family is capitalized just like the word Soldier in all Army correspondence' This, too, was directed by Army leadership as another way to emphasize the vital role families have in our Army.

<b>FMWR Blue Star Card</b>
The FMWR Blue Star Card is a deployment discount and activity card for Army spouses and families of deployed Soldiers. The program is a joint effort among all FMWR facilities with the primary goal of supporting families and thanking them for their sacrifices.

FMWR realizes the difficulty of deployment and is committed to making deployment in Hawaii as pleasant of an experience as possible.

In an effort to do so, the Blue Star Card program offers many events and activities for families. Events include activities such as monthly countdown parties, preview nights at Army Community Theater, and bus trips to local attractions.

At large FMWR events, cardholders are also provided specials such as reserved seating areas, discounted or free rides, and game tickets.

All Blue Star Card activities not only offer special perks, but more importantly, allow for the unique camaraderie and support that is only found with others who truly understand what it means to have a loved one deployed.

<b>Child Care and Additional Benefits</b>
The Blue Star Card program has also expanded as a result of the Army Family Covenant. Child care options now include 16 free hours of care, and additional care is only $2 per hour.

Children enrolled in full- or part-time Child, Youth and School Services (CYS2) receive a 20-percent discount, and registration fees are waived for two youth team or individual sports and four free SKIES classes for all cardholders' children.

Blue Star Card pet owners also receive one free day of pet care, per month (maximum 12 days total per cardholder), at the FMWR Pet Kennel.

Additionally, the Army Family Covenant provides $1 off bowling coupons and $10 off golf coupons, which can be downloaded from the Blue Star Card Web site, bluestarcardhawaii.com

Other everyday benefits include discounts at Army Bowling, Arts & Crafts, and Auto Skills centers; Hale Ikena, Kolekole Bar & Grill, and Mulligan's restaurants; Nehelani, Outdoor Recreation, the Pet Kennel, Pililaau Army Recreation Center; monthly pool passes at swimming pools; and Youth Sports registration and towing through the FMWR Auto Skills Center.

Monthly, Pililaau Army Recreation Center gives away a weekend cabin rental to one Blue Star cardholder. Cardholders are also provided free child care at the Kaala Recreation Short Term Alternative Child Care (STACC) site while parents are working out at the Health & Fitness Center.

Blue Star Cards are issued to any Army spouse or family care plan provider to be used for the duration of a Soldier's deployment.

Cards are issued 30 days prior to deployment and are provided out at both Fort Shafter's and Schofield's Army Community Service locations.

For more information on the Blue Star Card program, visit bluestarcardhawaii.com or contact Darlene Marshall at Darlene.j.marshall@us.army.mil, or 808-330-9448.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16