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NEWS | May 2, 2014

Airman and Family Readiness Center offers helping hand to moving families

By Airman 1st Class Devin Scott Michaels 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The season for U.S. Service members to receive Permanent Change of Station orders is here, which can be a stressful time for military families. Looking for a new home, moving furniture, keeping track of paperwork; these are all common stress factors of PCSing. However, the Langley Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness Center works to ensure Service members and their families hit the ground running wherever they land.

The AFRC's mission is to provide targeted U.S. Air Force Airmen with family support and services contributing to mission readiness, resiliency and the well-being of the Air Force community. However, their services are not limited to Air Force families. They are comprised of a variety of representatives capable of providing insight and helping manage multiple aspects of Service members' lives, whether they're married with children, divorced or single.

The AFRC plays a role in securing the present and future lives of all Service members, veterans and military families, said Ursula Santiago, AFRC Exceptional Family Member program coordinator. The EFMP is for military family members who have an illness, disability or injury causing them any type of special accommodations in the home, workplace or education.

Military families--especially EFMP families--should visit the center to attend an outbound PCS briefing and get connected with their gaining base's center, said Santiago. The next AFRC may be able to facilitate moving, help find a new home or offer information crucial to the Service member's circumstances.

Santiago said she understands moving or leaving the military altogether can be "a little scary." She strongly suggested the AFRC as one of the first places a family should go when they find out they are separating. The center has a lot of information to offer soon-to-be veteran families, such as what medical services their state may be able to offer them.

Santiago said Airmen new to Joint Base Langley-Eustis can visit the AFRC and request a portfolio containing information to help them acclimate to the area.

"We give out portfolios full of information about medical and housing options and accommodations, the community, educational facilities and special programs for EFMP families," said Santiago. "Those families typically have it a little bit harder than other families, so we offer Respite Care. It's when a provider comes into an EFMP family's home for up to twelve hours to give moms and dads a break, whether they have an appointment, are busy moving or they just want to go for dinner and a movie.

"It's great for deployments too," Santiago continued. "While the active duty member is away, the spouse can use Respite Care for when they need time to run errands or to just to relax."

If Service members are unable to visit the AFRC, the center can set up a virtual appointment via computer or smartphone.

"We use Skype and FaceTime if someone cannot leave home for the appointment," said Santiago. "It's also great for deployed Service members who need to make or attend an appointment while overseas. There is nothing like going on deployment and being able to have that peace of mind, knowing your family is being taken care of."

Santiago said peace of mind is an important aspect of Airmen's lives, because it helps them maintain focus and remain mentally and emotionally fit. Even though there are other sources for PCS and "civilian world" information, Santiago said the AFRC is ready and enthusiastic about helping families who prefer face-to-face communication.

"We try to fill in the gap and connect military families with what they need. I can honestly say that everyone here has a heart to help," said Santiago. "I know what it's like to get the run-around and I would never want someone to go through what I've had to go through, so it really makes my heart warm when we help people."

For more information, call 764-3990.