Friday, August 20, 2010

Family Matters: Army Community Services

Today's guest blogger is Kristen Smith.  Kristen is an Army spouse and blogger, writing about her experiences in the Army at "That Army Wife Life."  This post is about all the amazing resources available at every Army installation.  New to your post?  Start with Army Community Services!

There are a multitude of services of available on every post for Soldiers and their spouses. The key is learning where to look and who to ask when looking for assistance. My experience has been that a great many of these programs are vastly underutilized. People don't know that they are there, the benefits to utilizing them, or don't think the programs can help them.

A good place to start no matter what you are looking for is Army Community Services. Known as ACS, Army Community Services provides information, assistance, and guidance to active duty Soldiers and their Families. In many cases, ACS can refer an individual or Family to the appropriate agency.

I wanted to highlight a few of the standard offerings of ACS. While it is an Army-wide program, the details of any program will vary a bit from post to post.


Army Emergency Relief (AER) - Emergency financial assistance in the form of low interest loans and (occasionally) grants. The application for AER assistance goes through the Soldier's chain of command and is generally approved to pay a very specific amount (bills/car repair). Soldier is often required to provide proof that the funds were used to pay that specific expense by bringing back a receipt or similar verification.

Financial Readiness - credit information and assistance, budget preparation, and more offered through financial readiness classes. Open to both service members and their Families. These classes are frequently offered by units, especially while gearing up for a deployment.

ACS Volunteers - Between jobs, want to get out of the house, or build a resume? ACS is staffed by volunteers in many areas. Some posts offer free childcare to ACS volunteers.

Information and Referral - Assistance regarding crisis counseling, foster care information, support information, referrals for food stamps, emergency food resources, emergency food baskets, and community education.

EFMP Assistance - Help with resources, information, referrals and assistance with registration in the Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP.

Relocation Readiness Program - Know that a PCS is imminent? Or just arrived at a new duty station? ACS has Welcome Packets and local information. Citizenship assistance and classes as well as ESL (English as a Second Language) are often also offered.

Loan Closet - short term loan of daily use items for Families in the course of a move to or from an installation. Usually available are dishes, plate and silverware, cots, cribs and other similar household items to bridge the gap between the move and the delivery of household goods.

Army Family Team Building (AFTB) - a series of classes with something for everyone. Army basics (like what all those acronyms mean!), an installation tour, basic overview of resources available at your post, and a chance to speak to representatives from many different on post organizations.

This list is not exhaustive, but should show you that your local ACS has something to offer for even the most experienced spouse. There are all these resources out there to many this often challenging life a little easier ... let's use them!
For more information, visit Army Well-Being: Resources A - Z.


Army Well-Being said...

Kristen, thank you for this very important and informational post. The Army is committed to providing valuable services to its Soldiers and their Families ... but can only succeed if they are used! We appreciate your post reminding us of one great resource.

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