By Diana Bahr, USAG Vicenza Public AffairsMarch 11, 2008
VICENZA, Italy - The Vicenza Military Community hosted the first Europe-based Joint Services Family Assistance workshop for service providers recently. The workshop featured an Office of the Secretary of Defense team of subject-matter experts from areas such as relocation assistance, children and youth initiatives and counseling.
"General Helmick [Maj. Gen. Frank G. Helmick, Commander, United States Army Southern European Task Force (Airborne)] met members of this team in Washington," said Renee Citron, deputy to the garrison commander, USAG Vicenza. "He felt they had valuable information for our community and invited them to come to Italy."
In addition to talking about new programs and updates on current ones, the discussion groups provided valuable networking and idea-generation in many areas of family assistance, according to Citron.
"Each day the team was here was a day of learning and enrichment for all involved," said Citron. "Not only did they provide the workshop, but they had one-on-one meetings with many staff... As a result, we will be able to better utilize the many resources that OSD offers at the installation level, specifically Military OneSource."
One workshop attendee was Kent Thompson, Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program manager.
"We received information on a variety of new resources, along with potentially more effective ways to reach Soldiers and family members," said Thompson, who offers financial management programs for community members. "I will be changing some content and the methods of delivery to better reach the entire community. I want to determine what days and times are most convenient for people to attend events. I encourage our community to let me know what types of financial coaching they want and when they want it."
Many attendees said two of the most valuable take-aways from the workshops were the Web sites for Military HOMEFRONT (www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil) and Military OneSource (www.militaryonesource.com).
"The two sites can help you with just about anything," said Franny Packard, Vicenza Exceptional Family Member Program manager. "There is also a toll free number for overseas that will get you connected with a counselor; they offer translation services and more."
Another fan of the Web sites was Rose Holland, who manages both Army Family Team Building and Army Family Advocacy programs.
"The amount of resources available to our Soldiers and families through both (sites) was astonishing," she said. "As a parent of three teenagers, I was especially interested in the scholarship and college search tools. The other tool that I would encourage everyone to utilize is the plan-my-move tool. This helps you connect to the necessary resources and ensure you have what you need as you get ready to PCS."