By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleJuly 3, 2013
Directorates within the Fort Belvoir garrison are changing business operating hours due to the upcoming furlough period between July 8 and the end of the 2013 fiscal year.
During the furlough period, offices are limiting staffing capabilities through using an alternating work schedule Mondays through Fridays, closing one day a week or operating at full strength.
The garrison leadership appreciates the community members' understanding and patience during the furlough, according to Stephen Brooks, deputy to the garrison commander.
"We assessed how we could provide the best services possible to our customers in this period of time and determined that the managers of the various services would determine how they would implement the furlough within their respective areas," Brooks said.
Firefighters, law enforcement and gate guards will continue to operate as normal due to a furlough exemption from Garrison Commander Col. Gregory D. Gadson, according to Mike Bidelman, garrison resources management director.
The impact on Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the directorate responsible for providing leisure and convenience services to the community, is mitigated due to an U.S. Army Installation Management Command mandated exception for non-appropriated fund employees and Child Development Center employees. This is critical for the DFMWR as NAF employees make up majority of the organization's workforce, according to Kim Mills, DFMWR director.
The CDC exemption allows the Belvoir community to continue using affordable childcare on post, Mills said.
"There will be no impact, because of furloughs, in childcare service," Mills said. "All child care services employees are exempt."
As a whole, the Army Community Service and Soldier Family Assistance Center are the DFMWR facilities impacted the most by the furloughs because the facilities employ many workers who aren't NAF employees. Both facilities will adjust operating hours during the furlough period.
Army Community Service will be closed on Fridays. Soldiers with emergencies can call the Armed Forces Emergency Service Center, 1-877-272-7337. Only Red Cross emergencies will be handled at that center. Family Advocacy Program Domestic Violence Hotline (703) 229-2374, which is available 24/7, will be manned as usual.
The SFAC will remain open five days a week but will close an hour earlier. Starting this week, the hours will be from 7:30 a.m., to 4 p.m.
"Servicemembers and their Families remain our priority," Mills said. "We're making every effort to minimize the effect on the community."
At the Barden Education Center, counseling, testing and the multi-use learning facility will be closed every Friday during the furlough period beginning July 12.
"We encourage Soldiers to plan accordingly and visit their military education counselors Monday through Thursday," said Joyce Peterson, Fort Belvoir Barden Education Center manager. "We'll be very busy with one less day during the week but we'll continue to provide the best customer service possible." On Fridays, servicemembers with GoArmyEd problems can call the GoArmyEd Helpdesk at 1-800-817-9990. Call 1-800-827-1000 or 1-888-442-4551 for VA benefits questions. The college representatives at Barden will continue to work Monday through Friday.
The Fort Belvoir Staff Judge Advocate Office's legal assistance and claims services will close every Friday.
"While the furlough days have limited our attorney's availability for legal assistance appointments, we remain committed to top-quality customer service and client support," said Lt. Col. Margaret Thomas, Fort Belvoir Legal Office deputy staff judge advocate.
The Fort Belvoir Commissary will close on Mondays. Troy Collins, Fort Belvoir Commissary store director, encourages customers to plan their shopping accordingly.
"Keep shopping and using your commissary benefit during these difficult times," Collins said. "For those who are being furloughed, you can stretch your dollars even further by patronizing your local commissary more often. As a commissary patron myself, rest assured that I will be doing so."
The Army Substance Abuse Program hours will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. ASAP has changed clinical walk-in hours for evaluations to 8 a.m., Wednesday and Thursday only. Walk-in clients desiring evaluations are encouraged to arrive at 7:45 a.m., to complete the clinical admission forms. Current ASAP clients, and individual and group therapy appointments, have not been affected by this change. There will be no ASAP training scheduled on Mondays or Fridays for Fort Belvoir units and mission partners as 50 percent of ASAP staff will be on furlough during those days.
The Staff Sgt. John D. Linde Visitor Center at Tulley Gate will be closed Fridays.
The Civilian Personnel Advisory Center will be open Monday through Friday with limited staffing.
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service facilities on post, such as the Exchange, will remain open during regular scheduled hours.