An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Features : Display
NEWS | April 15, 2014

Family Readiness: a powerhouse of hope

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

Imagine an organization designed to ease the stress of permanent changes of station for U.S. Service members and their families, provide Service members with financial education, dating advice, support them as new parents, console them during mourning or even help them receive accommodations for a disabled family member.

Each branch has a different variation of it, but they will work with any Service member. At Langley Air Force Base, it's the Airman and Family Readiness Center and at Fort Eustis, it's the Soldier and Family Readiness Center.

"We're a one-stop shop; the total package," said Ursula Santiago, Langley AFB AFRC Exceptional Family Member Program representative. "We're here to get Service members and their families acclimated to their new surroundings or handle life-changing events from the cradle to the grave. We're here to help in any aspect of their lives and we don't stop. We'll continue to do what we can for families even after they're out of the military. As long as they have a Department of Defense Card or a Common Access Card, we can help them. We won't let them alone until we've helped them as best we can."

Santiago explained that if someone makes an appointment, but ends up incapable of getting to it on time, the Center has an immediate solution for that.

"A new thing the Airman and Family Readiness Center does is virtual appointments and classes," said Santiago. "We use Skype and FaceTime in case someone cannot leave home for the appointment. It's also great for deployed Service members who need to make or attend an appointment while overseas."

The AFRC aims to ease the stress of separation that comes with deployment and keep military family members part the Joint-Base Langley Eustis community as much as possible.

"We also have Hearts Apart events to help deployed Service members' families cope with the deployment of their loved ones," said Santiago. "Hearts Apart are monthly events including movie nights, dining facility dinners, pool parties and holiday celebrations. They help families continue to feel part of the JBLE community."

With PCS season coming up, Santiago said the Center will help make transitions to other bases as easy as possible for Airmen and their families.

"Military One Source has everything about relocating, but people tend to like that face-to-face communication when it comes to difficult situations and life-changing transitions," said Santiago. "We're here to help them get in direct contact with someone over at their next Airman and Family Readiness Center."

Santiago explained that the bottom line is mission efficiency.

"If the active duty member knows that his family is going to be taken care of on station--that they have somebody to guide and navigate them through the circumstances and know that we are supporting them--they can go and take care of the mission without even a second thought about whether or not their family is being taken care of," said Santiago. "Without a shadow of a doubt, they know they're going to get the services they need and they can fulfill their mission, because they don't have to take off to run around trying to navigate themselves. They've got someone doing that for them.

"They're not taking time off and they're not frustrated, so their mind is on the mission and that means more time will be spent with their wingmen focused on the task at hand," she continued. "When they're taken care of, the mission is taken care of. That is what our programs do; support the mission."

According to Santiago, the center makes Service members more capable of doing their job as effectively and efficiently as possible, because the Center facilitates solutions in Airmen's lives so they can do the mission better.

"The thing I like to say about our Airman and Family Readiness Center is we're a powerhouse," said Santiago, "There is nothing we can't, or at least won't try to do to help our Service members."

For more information about services provided or to offer to volunteer time, call Langley AFB's AFRC at 764-3990 or Fort Eustis' SFAC at 878-3638.