Fort Stewart opens new SFAC
June 25, 2010
<b> FORT STEWART, Ga. </b> - Fort Stewart's Soldier and Family Service Center has all new facilities located on 1145 Niles Ave., building 4973, across from Winn Army Community Hospital's emergency room. Diane Smith, SFAC director, and her staff began moving in the new building, June 14 then celebrated with a grand opening ceremony, June 22.
"It's nice to be under one roof," said Smith, who became SFAC director in November 2007. "The new building gives us more opportunity to be a one-stop shop and provide even better services to (Warriors in Transition) and their Families."
When Smith first came to Fort Stewart, the SFAC was still in its infancy. In fact, the SFAC had no building of its own and had to share facilities with Army Community Services. Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 6, 2008, the SFAC received two of 11 renovated buildings that make up the Warrior Transition Battalion's interim campus in the old National Guard training area. Less than a year later, on April 24, 2009, a ground-breaking ceremony was held at the site of the new SFAC.
"It all goes back to the Army Family Covenant," Smith said. "If there hadn't been an Army Family Covenant, I don't believe there would be an SFAC. We're one of the programs the Covenant put in place to provide Soldiers and Family Members the quality of life commensurate with their service. And, you know, when I say Soldiers, I mean active duty, Guard and Reserve Soldiers. We assist all (Warriors in Transition) and try to help them and their Families to set their goals, to heal and transition."
Soldier and Family Assistance Centers were designed by the Army to provide specialty services and support for wounded, injured or severely ill Soldiers and their Families assigned to a Warrior Transition Battalion, assisting them in making a smooth transition back to duty or out the Army.
Some of the services and assistance available to Warriors in Transition and their Families at Stewart's SFAC include a military personnel assistant, a military finance team, finance and education counselors, Child and Youth Services registration, Army Career and Alumni Program, a social services assistant, veterans benefits assistance, transportation assistance, Family Outreach, and a Medical Evaluation Board legal outreach section. Smith said pastoral services will soon be available again when a new chaplain is assigned.
The new SFAC is a 15,000 square foot facility that provides a central location for all the above services and assistance teams. It includes offices for each of the above assistance teams, an Internet CafAfA, a section with computer tables designed for wheelchair-bound Soldiers, handicap-accessible bathrooms, a full kitchen and a children's play area that includes child-scale bathroom facilities. There's also a fenced-in play area outside that includes a basketball goal.
"Every (Warrior in Transition) and every (Warrior in Transition) situation is unique," Smith explained. "We deal with every Soldier or Family Member individually by taking a holistic approach to healing. A majority of our staff members are retired or former military, or they're military spouses or in some other way affiliated with the military. We understand what (Warriors in Transition) are going through and communicate with them one-on-one. We try to figuratively wrap our arms around them and help them."
Although thankful for the team she has assembled, Smith said she is most appreciative of the support and cooperation her organization gets from the garrison commander and command sergeant major as well as 3rd Infantry Division and the community.
"I'm overwhelmed with the partnership we have here with garrison and division," she said. "I can't say enough about the support we get from (Army Recreation Machine Program) or contractors that built these facilities, Alutiiq, LLC and PBS & J. A lot of hard work has been accomplished to make the SFAC possible. The contributions and support of the whole community has made a positive impact on the Warriors in Transition and their Families."
Fort Stewart's Warrior Transition Battalion currently has 365 wounded, injured or severely ill Soldiers assigned. For more information about Fort Stewart's SFAC, call 912-435-9646.