FORT SILL, Oklahoma (July 21, 2021) -- From financial readiness to exceptional family member programs to survivor outreach services to relocation readiness, Army Community Service (ACS) has been providing critical support services to military members, their families, and retirees since 1965.
Fort Sill ACS celebrated its 56th birthday with a cake cutting ceremony July 21, at the Welcome Center, Building 4700. Dozens of ACS and Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) employees, Soldiers, and families attended the celebration.
Monica Ulibarri just began as the new ACS director July 19. She was most recently the director of Family Programs at Moffett Field, California.
“The whole preface of Army Community Service is not only to help service members and their families integrate (into the military lifestyle), but to help them before problems occur,” Ulibarri said. “Not only do we have these wonderful programs, but we also have resources and referrals so if we can’t help them we can surely get them into the right hands. After the warm handoff, we maintain communication to ensure their needs are being met.”
She recalled being a new Army wife and mom and using relocation readiness, the lending closest, and the employment readiness programs.
“ACS programs bettered my life, and helped me to fully grasp and understand Army life and adapting,” she said.
She described it as a positive experience, that she wants service members and families to experience, too.
ACS was created July 25, 1965, however, its concept began in 1946, said Ken Lewis, Financial Readiness Program manager, in his welcome. Lewis provided a brief synopsis of over a dozen ACS programs, which reflected the depth of resources. ACS operates as part of MWR, and all its programs are free.
During the celebration, Fort Sill Garrison Commander Col. Rhett Taylor cut the birthday cake.
“Army Community Service sets the precedence across the Department of Defense,” Taylor said. The Army was the first branch that had a community service, then all the other armed forces followed using the Army framework.
The education that ACS provides gives people tools to prevent problems, the colonel said. ACS is not just for junior Soldiers; NCOs and officers can also benefit from its services.
Do we deliver readiness of Soldiers and their families, or do we enable them?, Taylor said.
Enabling is giving a money loan, but delivering is teaching a Soldier or family to be financially responsible, he said. “ACS delivers.”
ACS has about 30 staff members, Ulibarri said. Many of them had set up information tables about their programs at the ceremony.
Registered nurse home visitors Shelby Quickly and Joi Almy provided information about the New Parent Support Program, which supports military parents of children in utero through 3-years-old.
“We teach classes, support the family, and give them all the tools to be the best parents they can be,” Almy said. “We do this through home visits, virtual visits, and playgroups. We also offer events where parents can socialize.”
Although Ulibarri just began here she already has a lot of objectives.
“Number one, I want to see if we are delivering our programs from the needs of the service members and families,” she said. “Also, we have to elevate the programs, and cannot keep them stagnant.”