By Grant Sattler, USAG Vicenza Public Affairs OfficerMarch 24, 2011
VICENZA, Italy -- Vicenza's Army Community Service will finish a test period March 31, officially becoming its own directorate April 1, to complete a separation from its parent organization, the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
Vicenza was one of 22 pilot sites leading the way on the changes, which are intended to enhance delivery of services to Army communities worldwide. The pilot period was a way to offer lessons learned to garrisons around the Army as they prepare to transform.
Full implementation of the transformation Army-wide is expected to be completed by October.
Lessons learned from the pilot program will be implemented at every installation as directed by the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff of Installation Management.
The transformation is a result of feedback from 450 garrison focus groups, surveys and installations visits by IMCOM Commander Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch in 2009 and 2010.
The change aims to make it easier and faster for Soldiers and their family members to get the help they are seeking, said Vicenza ACS Director Marva Dixon.
"ACS will remain a one-stop information hub and a location where customers can make their first contact for all available services on the installation," Dixon said. "What is changing is that we are developing more of a generalists approach to service delivery. Everyone is being cross-trained to handle multiple programs in ACS to better serve every customer."
The transformed ACS will also be taking more programs and services to units, housing, schools, lodging, commissary, exchanges and off-site locations to meet customers' needs, Dixon said.
Since it was established in 1965, ACS has developed from a place for spouses to find assistance and information to centers of diversified programs staffed by professionals.
ACS programs include: Army Family Action Plan, Army Family Team Building, Deployment/Mobilization Program, New Parent Support, Army Volunteer Corps, Master Resiliency Training, Exceptional Family Member, Family Advocacy, Financial Readiness, Victim Advocacy, Army Emergency Relief, Information and Referral, Relocation Readiness, Sexual Assault and Response Program, Soldier and Family Assistance Center, Spouse Employment Readiness, Survivor Outreach Services, Military Family Life Consultants and Computer/Yellow Ribbon Rooms.
ACS assists commanders in maintaining individual and family readiness, and helps deliver services to promote self-reliance, resiliency and stability. The community will probably not notice the internal changes to allow cross training, but will notice the improvement when they can get information on any program at ACS, even if a particular specialist is not in, Dixon said.
Some positions within ACS require the staff to have specialized credentials and/or licenses, while others such as the deployment/mobilization programs, require more generalized credentials.
With the transformation, ACS will no longer be a division under Family and MWR, but will report directly to garrison commanders.
"ACS will continue to work in close partnership with FMWR on many of programs and activities as joint providers in service delivery to the military community," Dixon said.