New Welcome Center simplifies relocation
Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. Jerry Blixt and Installation Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Berhane watch as Sgt. Terry Barnes cuts the ribbon for the grand opening of the Welcome Center for Soldier in and out processing June 24.

FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Fort Belvoir held its grand opening for the Welcome Center for Soldier in- and out-processing Thursday at its new location behind the Bowling Center.

The opening of the new center will make the transition from duty stations easier on both Soldiers and family members.

Its opening allows agency representatives from TRICARE, ID cards, Housing, Child and Youth Services, Joint Personal Property Shipping Office, Army Community Service and many others, all under one roof.

Before the new center, Soldiers arriving to Belvoir had to visit 24 different agencies or activities all over the installation, including housing, the identification card section, dental, medical, transportation, military pay and education facilities.

Soldiers departing from Belvoir must visit the same 24 agencies, plus an additional four: Army Substance Abuse Program, Social Work Services, Behavioral Health and the barracks.

Diana Franco, Belvoir's Directorate of Human Resources' lead for in and out processing, noted the goal is to make the process much simpler and less stressful for Soldiers.

"The main purpose of the Welcome Center is to make sure the Soldiers have as smooth a transition as possible for them to meet the requirements of the Army when processing into an installation," Franco said. "This new center is going to make it easier for them, as well as save them money and time."

Franco also noted that, with the large number of new Soldiers coming onto post due to Base Realignment and Closure regulations, it is essential to make the process as efficient as possible.
"In preparation for BRAC, we are going to be getting a lot more Soldiers on the installation and this change will reduce the number of Soldiers driving around base to meet their requirements," Franco said.

Franco also said Soldiers in- and out-processing will now see a dramatic reduction in the time needed for both processes.

All Soldiers and units tied to Fort Belvoir, including Army National Guard and Army Reserve units, will be using the facility. Soldiers in organizations such as Human Resources Command, Defense Logistics Agency and Army Materiel Command will also in and out process at the center.

The center, in the old Shoppette between Dunkin' Donuts and the Bowling Center, will allow a representative from each of those 28 agencies to be under one roof, allowing Soldiers to reduce the necessary time from 10 days to no more than three days for in and out processing.

According to Installation Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Berhane, the establishment of the one-stop welcome center was a long-time vision for Installation Commander Col. Jerry Blixt.

Blixt noted the event was much more than just a grand opening.

"It is a historic day for us at Fort Belvoir. I am very proud of the Belvoir team for being able to accomplish this task," Blixt said. "I don't look at this so much as a grand opening, but also a celebration for us today. To have an in and out processing center for our Soldiers is very important to the quality of services we provide to everyone who comes through our gates and this is just one step in that process."

The new center is open Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Page last updated Thu July 1st, 2010 at 11:07