By Sheri L. CroweJanuary 11, 2008
Fort Bragg is happy to announce full compliance with the Army's decision last year to establish Soldier and Family Assistance Centers in 29 Army installations by January 2008. As of Jan. 3, the Fort Bragg SFAC in the Soldier Support Center became fully operational as an SFAC hub for Warrior Transition Battalion Soldiers and their Families.
"Execution Order 118-07, is our guidance on the types of services the SFAC will deliver to our Soldiers and Families in the Warrior Transition Battalion," said Martha Brown, SFAC director who manages the program and oversees daily operations. "Our goal was to be fully operational by the third of January ... and we did it."
This SFAC mandate is for posts like Fort Bragg that have accommodating military medical facilities and serve as a home for Soldiers in the WTB. It's part of the Army Medical Action Plan where, under the plan, Army medicine, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other support agencies collaborated to identify and implement changes to improve processes for WTB Soldiers and Family members.
Fort Bragg, along with other Army commands with SFACs, has conveniently consolidated the most commonly needed services into a single, one-stop location in the SFAC. Through this center, Soldiers and their Families can obtain support services including Family services, money management, child-care, budgeting, chaplain assistance, legal assistance, military personnel issues, logistics, transportation, installation access, benefits counseling, education, employment opportunities, information and referral, and more.
"The Soldier and Family Assistance Center is here to work directly with the Warrior Transition Battalion," said Brown
"Yes, we are here for the (Warrior Transition Battalion) Soldiers, but more importantly, Family members need to know that we are here for them, too," said Brown. "I want the Soldier and Family Assistance Center to be a warm and inviting location where Soldiers and Families of the Warrior Transition Battalion can come see us when they have time to wind down or need assistance. They can watch some television or read some books (while waiting to be assisted) ... plus, I'm getting all kinds of donations coming in, including snacks and bottled water ... so, I'll have all kinds of snacks available for them, too."
The SFAC is located on the fifth floor of the SSC and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center offers a relaxed and cozy home-like setting where WTB Soldiers and their Families can devote their energies to healing and transitioning back to their units or to civilian life.
According to Brown, the SFAC is set-up similar to the caring environments of a Family Service Center and United Service Organizations and has a lot to offer. For instance, it has a large reception/waiting area, a separate television and reading section, a child play area, a designated computer zone with Internet capability along with wireless capability, a refreshment area, a private counseling room, a conference room and several office spaces. It is also decorated throughout with wall hangings and artwork, signs, artificial plants, bulletin boards, the SFAC vision statement, and informational literature racks.
When newly arriving WTB Soldiers begin their in processing through SFAC, SFAC staff members briefs them on available services and provides them with welcome packages.
"When the Soldiers in process in the Soldier and Family Assistance Center, they have an opportunity to see all the providers," she said. "They'll be able to get the answers to all their questions."
Some of these providers are from Military Benefits, Education Services, Human Resource Command, Child and Youth Services, and Army Career Alumni Program. Other services the Fort Bragg SFAC offers includes: recreation and leisure activities, Army Substance Abuse Prevention Program, counseling services, Military Family life consultants, and Traumatic Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance.
"We will provide free child care for Soldiers that are accompanied by their spouse and require child care for their children while the Soldier and spouse attend the medical appointment," said Brown. "The child care for SFAC medical appointments is unlimited, so, if they have a doctor's appointment and they need child care, we can provide the resource."
Brown said in addition to the list of mandatory services that SFAC would provide, she was able to secure a JAG officer. He is Lt. Col. J. Bernard Siler, an Army reservist recalled to active duty and is now in the WTB.
"He is volunteering his time to us two days a week to provide legal assistance to Warrior Transition Battalion Soldiers and their Families members," said Brown.
He said about a month ago he got in contact with Brown and asked if she could use his services. When he found out that she could, Siler said he was happy to be of help.
"The types of advice I give are preliminary legal advice short of going to court in representing people ... ," he said. "This also includes typical wills, powers of attorney, and just the general legal advice."
So far, Brown said she's getting some wonderful donations from people, including the Fort Bragg Protestant Women of the Chapel, who've decorated the SFAC spaces for the holidays, donated a refrigerator full of bottled water, and have delivered fresh baked goods.
For more information on the Fort Bragg SFAC or if interested in donating call 643-6653.