When our Armed Forces were fully engaged in a two front war there was a stability/predictability to the OPTEMO that involved our Families. Now, with having pulled many of our forces out of Iraq only to see us reengaging in an asymmetrical fashion, the level of predictability for our Soldiers and Families is difficult to grasp. It's the "unknown" that is creating greater tensions within our military communities. Now more than ever, Army Community Service is needed to provide a robust offering of services enabling our commanders and Families to better cope with these uncertain times.Personal demands facing Soldiers and Family Members may adversely impact training effectiveness and could foster an unsafe environment. Due to today's technology, Soldiers in combat zones have near-daily contact with Family Members. Soldiers inundated with Family challenges from back home may become distracted when going on mission and their ability to detect the enemy-around-the-corner degraded if otherwise emotionally occupied. ACS works hard to help Soldiers and Families address those personal issues through the entire deployment cycle.In addition to its direct services, ACS acts as a conduit to reduce or eliminate shortcomings in areas involving legal, administrative and Tricare matters as well as child care issues. Spouse and overall Family Member attendance at predeployment briefings is critical as the majority of information provided is utilized by those remaining state-side during times of extended separation. Establishing independence through a deployment is important, but building a continuing resolve to address emerging challenges is critical.Army Emergency Relief (AER) Program provides financial assistance to meet emergencies; finding a meaningful career or part-time employment through the Employment Readiness Program (ERP) is one of the best ways we empower our populace; the Financial Readiness Program (FRP) provides expert training on budgeting, credit, investment strategies and consumer protection assistance; Relocation Readiness Program ensures a smooth transition for our new arrivals or when conducting a PCS. They also provide such services as English as a second language, passport facilitation and a platform for Immigration information.ACS training and services when coupled with unit leader participation, serves to focus our Soldiers in their pursuit of military excellence by removing distractions in addressing key areas before they become emergencies. ACS possesses services that impacts and improves the quality of life for our Soldiers and their Families, retirees and veterans. Moreover, ACS provides a pipeline to community services reaching far outside the confines of Post.Let's turn to the experts…* Professor David Segal's research shows that Spouse and Family satisfaction with military life are major factors in decisions to stay or separate from the military. Of military families with children, 73 percent of children are under 12 while nearly half are under 5.**Professor Robert Blum and colleagues surveyed military families to gauge the impact of deployment on young people. The survey sample consisted of 1,137 parent surveys and 153 child surveys. Survey results showed that nearly 20 percent indicated that deployments increase family
strain and problems, with 33 percent noting that the problems are psychological. Especially hard for any service member is redeployment.***Cmdr. Gregory Gorman and colleagues undertook research on the health effects of deployment on children. Parents in military Families brought kids in a little more often for all types of visits, most likely because health care and support systems were readily available on base. Gorman concluded his presentation by stating: "Our fighting men and women fight better when we take care of their families back home."From our own experiences coupled with the data collected by an expert panel, a "Call-To-Arms" goes out to our Military Leadership and Congress urging them to take Family Programs seriously when making budget decisions. These programs directly affect Retention, training focus and mission execution. We highly recommend all involved in our community to learn more about the free ACS services by attending regularly scheduled programs as Newcomer's briefings that provide information on ACS programs, a multitude of areas to include medical, Child/Youth Services, Soldier Family Readiness Groups (SFRG) and tours of Post and the surrounding area.Finally, an effective way to learn more about ACS and our community is through the Army Volunteer Corps Program (AVC). Volunteers operate in areas directly affecting our Soldiers such as working with the USO, MWR programs, the Red Cross and even as ACS intake specialists. In a volunteer capacity you directly assist ACS as a Force-Multiplier for our Soldiers on the Battlefield.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Steve Roumell served 23+ years combined active duty between the Marine Corps and Army as an NCO and Engineer Officer. Steve currently works in the ACS Mobilization/Deployment Division on Fort Bliss and possesses an M.A. in Human Resource Development.*David R. Segal, Professor of Sociology, and Director of the Center for Research on Military Organization, University of Maryland: "Setting the Agenda for Policy and Research: Demography of the American Military Family"**Robert W. Blum, William H. Gates Sr. Professor and Chair, Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: "The Impact of Deployment on Children and Their Families"***Cmdr. Gregory H. Gorman, U.S. Navy, Department of Pediatrics, Uniformed Services University and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center: "Child Health and Parent Military Deployment."