Soldier, Family services enhanced by covenant
November 3, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Families serve alongside their Soldiers, make sacrifices every day and are a valued and vital part of the Army.
One year ago, the Department of the Army made a $1.4 billion commitment to better serve Army Families.
When Fort Hood leaders joined Gen. Charles Campbell, Forces Command commanding general, in signing the Army Family Covenant last Nov. 1 at the Oveta Culp-Hobby Soldier and Family Readiness Center, they created a physical sign of their commitment.
And Army Families have seen the results in expanded child care services, improved medical care and better access to Family services.
Although III Corps and Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch was not at the installation last year, he has embraced a Family focus at Fort Hood.
Lynch has dubbed the III Corps the Aca,!A"Family First CorpsAca,!A? and followed through to make the name more than lip service.
Lynch has instituted the 3 p.m. Thursday release of Soldiers and a Monday-Friday work week for Soldiers to maximize Family time. Although training and warrior tasks will sometimes conflict, post leadership is doing what it can to allow Family time while still preparing for the Global War on Terrorism.
While these policies are only at Fort Hood, they reflect the Army Family Covenant.
Postwide and Armywide, changes directly generated by money provided by the Army Covenant have mostly affected the Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation, but more specifically, Army Community Services, since most Family-focused programs fall under ACS.
Fort Hood ACS director Jeannie Barton said the Army Family Covenant is the ArmyAca,!a,,cs recognition that Families are valued and important.
Aca,!A"We care about them,Aca,!A? she said. Aca,!A"We want them to know someone is there to help them.Aca,!A?
BartonAca,!a,,cs staff at ACS, from Child, Youth and School Services to the Financial Readiness Branch and everything in-between, offers enhanced services to better need the specific needs of Army Families.
Aca,!A"The money (from the covenant) makes it easier to give a response to FamiliesAca,!a,,c needs,Aca,!A? Barton said. Aca,!A"The programs we had have been enhanced.Aca,!A?
Perhaps the most significant impact has been the hiring of additional staff members within ACS.
Known as Aca,!A"right sizing,Aca,!A? the covenant money allowed the hiring of 477 additional ACS workers Armywide. Before the covenant signing, Fort Hood had 18 positions, now there are 41 filled positions, Barton said.
Aca,!A"Right sizing will bring the most to Families in the long-term,Aca,!A? Barton said.
At Fort Hood, the larger staff has equaled more programs, such as Daddy Boot Camp, the hiring of 12 Military Family Life Consultants, Exceptional Family Member respite care and more new parent support home visitors for Families.
In addition, parents who use CYSS no longer have to pay to register their children, respite care costs for Families of deployed, wounded or fallen Soldiers have been reduced and respite child care hours have been expanded.
The covenant even has expanded recreation programs and allowed for discounts on bowling and golf on the installation.
Fort HoodAca,!a,,cs Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation was recognized Oct. 7 for their efforts in publicizing programs established to meet the ArmyAca,!a,,cs commitment to Families when Army secretary Pete Geren presented representatives with a Quality of Life Award for Communications Excellence at the National AUSA conference in Washington.
Called Get Out On Fort Hood (GOOF OFF), the campaign promotes recreational activities and services enhanced as a result of the Army Family Covenant by putting a focus on Family discounts and free services on post.
With the programs taking off, Barton said the only challenge in instituting the enhancements has been effective marketing and getting the word out to Families that these services are available.
Aca,!A"The challenge has always been communicating what is available and where to go,Aca,!A? Barton said. Aca,!A"The programs to fit the needs of Army Families are available and they are available on post.Aca,!A?
For information on ACS and other DFMWR programs, Families need only to walk through the doors of the Rivers Building on 761st Tank Battalion Avenue for flyers, offices and help.
What the covenant has done for Fort Hood
Child, Youth and School Services
initiatives resulting from Army Family Covenant
* For Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and retirees, all CYSS registrations are free
* Deployed Soldiers and DA civilians with orders receive four free classes per child, two free sports, 16-hour respite care cards per month, $2 hourly care and a 20 percent reduction in full- and part-day fees.
* Unaccompanied PCS or TDY (90-179 days) Soldiers with orders receive two free classes per child for Families of unaccompanied permanent change of station or temporary change of station Soldiers, one free sport, 16-hour respite care cards per month and $2 hourly care.
* Rear detachment cadre members with documentation receive two free classes per child, one free sport and five free hours of respite care per month during rear detachment assignment.
* Wounded warriors receive four free classes per child, two free sports, 16-hour respite care cards per month during designated period, unlimited no-cost hourly care for medical appointments as approved by the WTU commander or caseworker, $2 per hour for hourly care each month and reduction to Category 1 for full- or part-day care.
* Gold Star Families receive four free classes per child for Families of fallen Soldiers or DACs, two free sports, 16-hour respite care cards per month during designated period, $2 hourly care, reduction to Category 1 for full- or part-day care, 40 no-cost childcare hours for Families of deceased Soldiers from the time of notification up to four weeks after burial (additional hours may be granted at the commanderAca,!a,,cs discretion) and free group child care at all memorial services.
Army Community Service
initiatives resulting from Army Family Covenant
Aca,!Ac Expanded Quarterly Family Focus on Deployment Activities.
Aca,!Ac Launched the Military Youth Coping with Separation Program.
Aca,!Ac Provided respite care for Families with Exceptional Family Members.
Aca,!Ac Establish computer lab for job seekers.
Aca,!Ac Hired 41 additional ACS staff members on Fort Hood.
Aca,!Ac Added nine more Military Family Life Consultants.
Aca,!Ac Increased New Parent Support Program Home visitors from three to 15 to support high-risk Families.
Aca,!Ac Received 120 book titles (total 1,800) to augment existing ACS Resource Library
Aca,!Ac Partnered with Texas Tech University to identify Soldier and Family member road blocks to accessing financial assistance.
Families of Deployed Soldiers
Recreational benefits - these activities were funded because of the Army Family Covenant
Aca,!Ac Phantom Warrior Lanes
Bowlers receive $1 discount per person, per game Monday - Friday. There is a limit of three games for this offer
Aca,!Ac Courses of Clear Creek
Free 9-holes of golf, greens fees and cart all day Monday Aca,!" Friday and after 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.