A&FRC keeps service members, families ready
KADENA AIR BASE - On one wall, a display case of samurai dolls and local cultural decorations, on the other, a bulletin board filled with pamphlets of information about upcoming events and resources provided by one of the 18th Force Support Squadron's most used resource centers.
Each year, the Airman and Family Readiness Center provides services for deployment readiness, spouses and relocation programs to more than 50,000 customers.
Although furloughs of Department of Defense civilians occurred during the summer and after Oct. 1, the A&FRC managed to provide more than 760 educational workshops and seminars, reaching approximately 220 customers per week and serving more than 53,000 customers overall in fiscal year 2013.
"Fortunately all of our employees are back to work (as of Oct. 8), so we have resumed our full schedule of events, however, the government shut down did affect us," said Carla E. Diamond, A&FRC chief. "We did have to cancel all of our classes except for our cultural classes and the Transition Assistance Program, which meant sponsorship and 'Plan my Move' classes were cancelled. If the employees had not returned, TAP would have been hampered as well."
Programs like "Plan my Move" and the sponsorship class are only two of many programs offered by the A&FRC in preparation of a permanent change of station.
"We provide several different core activity areas that cross the spectrum of the life cycle of one's military career," Diamond said. "(Workshops) like Cultural Awareness help Airmen and their family members who are coming to Kadena adapt to Okinawa and the culture."
Financial readiness and the loan locker, where people may borrow appliances and dishes while they are waiting on their household goods, are also available for all service members and their families transitioning into a new home.
"If you're getting ready to PCS to another installation, you're going to come to us and we're going to ensure that that is the best move you've ever had," Diamond said. "We're going to make sure you get your sponsor lined up before you leave here, and we're going to make sure if you need access to the loan locker, you have access to that."
Service members with families aren't the only people who use the A&FRC; single Airmen may also use the resources the center provides.
"When you come in as a single Airman, a lot of times the only interaction with the A&FRC is if there is emergency financial assistance required or if they are deploying and they are looking for a car care voucher, we can provide that service to them," Diamond said.
Some other programs offered are spouse employment workshops where spouses who are looking for employment on the island near their future duty station can get information. These programs consist of résumé building and aiding with interviewing skills.
"We also now have the military spouse employment program," Diamond added. "We receive job announcements from all around the world and our goal is to make sure we send those emails and job search information to spouses who may be relocating to the area."
Not only are there spouse employment programs, the A&FRC offers Heartlink workshops for new spouses who have been married for five years or less, and introduces them to the installation mission directly from the wing commander and community support organizations as well.
A large aspect of the readiness center is just that - readiness and ensuring all personnel who frequently use the center and its services are ready for anything, whether it is financially, mentally or otherwise.
One of the other programs offered for those who are deploying is the PLAYpass program where the family of a service member can grab a PLAYpass, which is a discount card equaling approximately $500 in discounts, that can be used at any 18th Force Support Squadron facility. Some examples are massages, hourly childcare, trips and much more. The married service member can also pick up a PLAYpass when they return to equal $1,000 in discounts for their family.
Single service members can also obtain a PLAYpass once they return from a deployment that is good for up to 90 days after they return from a deployment.
"The importance is our readiness program," Diamond said. "Our mission is to provide education, prevention, and training to military members and their family members to ensure they are self-sufficient, resilient, and are able to cope with any of the demands of the military lifestyle."
For more information, contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center.