ACS celebrates 45th birthday
Installation Commander Col. John Strycula; his wife, Wendy; Installation Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Berhane and Robin Johnson, director of Fort Belvoir's Army Community Service, celebrate the 45th birthday of ACS with a cake-cutting Friday at the Sosa building.

FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Army Community Service marked 45 glorious years Friday with a birthday celebration inside the Sosa building that included face-painting for kids and cake for all.

Installation Commander Col. John Strycula was one of many on hand to celebrate the occasion, along with his wife, Wendy, and Installation Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Berhane. According to Strycula, ACS is well-positioned to support Soldiers far into the future.

"This is a vibrant and supportive organization to thousands of people. I'm grateful for its many contributions to our community," Strycula told those gathered. "Everything from Survivor Outreach to its Exceptional Family Member Program, ACS has a long-standing history of meeting the current challenges of the Army. It makes me proud to know that will never change."

With nearly 20 years under her belt as a volunteer, Wendy Strycula said she's seen firsthand the quality and compassion of those working with ACS. Berhane added similar sentiments, saying it's those qualities that make it such a remarkable organization.

"It's a great organization to be a part of because you meet so many nice people. It's also a great way of giving back to the community," said 13-year-old Aiyanna Sealey, one of several teenagers volunteering at ACS this summer. "I've made plenty of friends and have learned a lot at the same time."

Sealey, who was introduced to ACS by her mother and current Army Family Team Building program manager, Colandra Sealey, said she has aspirations of staying on as a volunteer and ascending to a higher program, possibly becoming an instructor with AFTB.

Like Sealey, 10-year-old Jacarri Braddy has also been with ACS since the start of summer. He helps write newsletters highlighting different programs and assists with special activities and other functions through the organization.

"It's a lot of fun. I can see friends and do something for others," Braddy said. "It's a really important organization and there's a lot going on. It's nice to keep busy."

ACS director Robin Johnson said having young people involved with the organization is beneficial for everyone. Not only is it creative and educational for youth, but, Johnson said, it provides a whole new perspective on how to market programs to families in the community.

"We're thankful for all our Soldiers, families and civilians here at Fort Belvoir," Johnson said. "It's an honor to serve them."

During the Vietnam War, then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara told Congress the government has a special responsibility to care for the needs of military families. Later, in July 1965, Army chief of staff Gen. Harold K. Johnson, sent a letter to all major commands officially establishing Army Community Service.

ACS offers a range of programs, including Army Emergency Relief; Army Family Action Plan; AFTB; Army Volunteer Corps; Employment Readiness; EFMP; Family Advocacy; Information & Referral; Mobilization and Deployment Readiness; Relocation Readiness; Survivor Outreach Services and the Soldier and Family Assistance Center.

Assistance ranges from individual or unit training; home visits for new parents; conflict resolution; housing crisis assistance; community resources; medical certification training; and transition assistance for Wounded Warriors.

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