New centers helping families of wounded warriors
November 20, 2008
By Lindy Kyzer
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 20, 2008) -- A key component of caring for wounded warriors is taking care of their families. That's why Soldier Family Assistance Centers now thrive at 34 Army installations across the globe, officials said.
SFACs are a one-stop shop where wounded warriors and their families can find assistance and information to get them through a difficult time.
Maj. Gen. John Macdonald, commanding general of the U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command and Delores F. Johnson, director, family programs, headquarters, U.S. Army FMWRC, joined bloggers and on-line journalists for a special Warrior Care month blogger's roundtable to discuss SFACs and other programs available to wounded warriors.
"What we realized is, we often have parents and families and girlfriends and spouses who come onto our installations where our major treatment centers are," said Macdonald. "And they've never been on an installation. They don't know which way is up."
That awareness prompted the Army to create a specialized care system just for families of wounded warriors. It combines all of the components -- from Veterans Affairs to specialized medical care information -- and puts them in one accessible place for the families of Soldiers.
"We find if we reduce that stress of how am I going to get paid, how is my family going to get housed, and where are my kids going to go to school while they're here, at Fort Sam Houston, because I'm here in long-term care -- when all that stress is reduced, our Soldiers heal much more quickly," said Macdonald.
Many families of wounded warriors end up living far from home during their Soldiers treatment. That's why SFACs are designed to offer not just resources and information, but a home base for families who may be miles away from their usual support system.
"The other piece is just creating a safe haven for families, on the garrison, where they could meet, mingle and get to know each other, as their warrior is healing through the process," said Johnson.
In addition to offering care on post, support networks in communities, called Community-Based Warrior Transition Units, offer resources and assistance to families not located on a military installation. Families can come to the CBWTU for assistance, and then continue to get help in the garrison if they need more extensive support, said Johnson.
A virtual SFAC is offered on the Military One Source web site, for families looking to find out what kind of support and activities are available in their community.
In addition to the support offered by SFACs, Macdonald spent several moments discussing a recently launched battlemind training taking place called Warrior Adventure Quest. The program helps Soldiers who have become accustomed to the adrenaline rush that comes from serving in combat, safely deal with the transition to the lower-tempo of civilian life. Soldiers in the program participate activities such as whitewater rafting, sky diving, rock climbing and snowmobiling.
For more information on SFACs, Warrior Adventure Quest, or other programs offered by FMWRC for Soldiers and families, visit http://www.myarmylifetoo.com.
(Lindy Kyzer writes for OCPA)