By Paul BelloFebruary 1, 2010
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- 2009 was a milestone year for Army Family Team Building. It marked its 15th anniversary helping Soldiers and families get acclimated to Army life.
The program accomplishes this feat in a number of ways, according to program manager Colandra Sealey. Besides their newcomers' briefings, which are a big hit among military spouses, she said classes are offered on stress management, military benefits and entitlements and professional development.
Since coming aboard two years ago, Sealey has also noticed many students staying within the program and becoming future instructors themselves. Some have even gone on to its Level III course, which discusses leadership skills for the classroom and how to manage group conflict.
According to her, it's that dedication that speaks volumes to AFTB's success.
"It's a totally different Army now than when this program first started. People realize the value our classes have and how it can benefit them in the long run," Sealey said. "All the skills I learned as a volunteer led to the position I have now. It's very rewarding to see our students stay and become teachers. That's just phenomenal."
That's how things went for JoAnn Harris. After starting as a volunteer, Harris ascended to volunteer program manager, in addition to serving as an instructor. Given her experience, she believes AFTB is an invaluable tool for anyone who joins.
"I saw this as an opportunity to give back to the community that has been so good to me," Harris said. "This was also a way for me to keep my job skills current and to network with other people. That's really important, too."
Staying true to the Army Family Covenant, Sealey and Harris agree that AFTB is another example of enhancing the quality of life for Soldiers and their families. Its role is felt no where more than a military spouse looking to integrate into a new community.
"You move around a lot when in the service. That's the nature of the business and, for a military spouse, that's an incredible challenge," Harris said. "Getting familiar with your surroundings is crucial. When I first came to Belvoir, I didn't know anyone and I didn't know what was offered here. What I soon discovered was a network of people just like me. So, we all learned together and supported one another. It's a huge comfort."
As a volunteer-led organization, Sealey said AFTB will keep its foot on the pedal in 2010 by continuing to offer classes that support personal and family preparedness. She also hopes to offer additional instructor training classes with Belvoir's Military Intelligence Readiness Command, in addition to its AFTB counterpart at Fort Myer.
"I can't thank all the volunteers enough for their dedication and support of the Army mission," Sealey said. "To celebrate our 15th anniversary is an accomplishment we can all be proud of."
AFTB classes are available to units and organizations upon request. Soldiers can earn up to four promotion points for completing Level I classroom instruction, Sealey said. For more information, call 805-2967 or 805-5556. Additional information on AFTB can be found online at belvoirmwr.com.