SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Ensuring that Soldiers and their families have the tools to succeed is a priority for U.S. Army Hawaii, and this begins from the moment they arrive on post.
"What we know about people who are new to a community is that they need to feel connected to that community within the first 90 days," said Brandi Stauber, chief of Army Community Service. "(The Community Readiness Expo) is a great way to get them connected from the beginning."
The CRE is a weekly interactive orientation for Soldiers and families who are new to Hawaii or who are about to deploy or go on extended leave for an exercise. It connects Soldiers and their families with more than 20 service providers who can answer questions and provide information on topics ranging from automobile insurance and employment to higher education and weapons registration.
"This is an incredibly important tool that allows us to execute our mission at U.S. Army Hawaii," said Maj. Gen. Charles Flynn, senior commander, U.S. Army Hawaii. "This is a commitment to make sure Soldiers and families are ready -- Soldier Readiness and Family Preparedness is job No. 1."
• Interactive strategy
Stauber said the CRE is set up to encourage conversation among Soldiers, their families and the service providers.
"It's more of a dialogue between Soldiers and their families, and the service providers so that their needs are met directly," she explained. "They're not just standing there receiving a briefing, but engaging in a conversation, asking questions, ensuring they are getting all the information they need."
Making sure Soldiers and families get this information is important and can affect readiness. If, for example, a Soldier is unfamiliar with and uninformed about Hawaii's laws regarding weapons registration, she may not register her weapon within the first five days, thereby causing problems down the line that could affect her ability to concentrate on her job.
Vee Taufaao, a representative for the Directorate of Emergency Services, was providing such information to those who visited his booth. He also explained Hawaii's crosswalk law, which prohibits pedestrians from crossing a street outside of a crosswalk or when crossing is not specifically indicated by the traffic signal. Those who are caught jaywalking could receive a fine of up to $130, something that many new to the island are unaware of.
For Tricia Howell, an Army spouse who moved to Hawaii from Wisconsin with her husband in January, learning about available child care options for her 17-month-old son, Jackson, was what motivated her to attend a recent CRE.
"And I heard there were a bunch of other booths to check out," she added.
She took advantage of the free child care available at the CRE while she was there.
Pvt. Austin Taylor had arrived in Hawaii from Oregon only about a week ago and said he wanted to know about higher education options and about Hawaii's culture and customs. He was also able to learn more about purchasing an automobile in the state by talking to representatives from Farmers Insurance Hawaii.
With Taylor was Pvt. Elijah Kirkman, who arrived on the island about a week ago from Indiana. He wanted to know more about places to visit, specifically beaches. He said he did get that information at the CRE.
At the ACS Employment Readiness booth, Latarcia Steinlage described various employment opportunities to Spc. Salthaniel Hall of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Hall, his wife, Rachel, and their 2-month-old daughter, Abigail, moved to Hawaii from Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Steinlage went over the differences between a civilian resume and a federal resume, highlighted upcoming resume workshops and job fairs, and answered questions about employment options for military spouses.
Whether it be helping a Soldier new to the island find a beach or helping a family secure child care, ultimately, Stauber said, the CRE is tied to USARHAW's mission to make sure Soldiers and their families have the tools to be prepared and ready -- whether they remain in Hawaii or leave for deployments or extended exercises.
• Weekly CRE
The Community Readiness Expo is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. every Thursday at the Nehelani on Schofield Barracks. Call (808) 655-4227 for more information.