Yokota’s A&FRC: Taking care of the things close to your heart
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Airman & Family Readiness Center is an organization that supports and maintains mission readiness by assisting service members and their dependents as they adjust to the challenges and demands of military life. They provide a variety of services including, but not limited to, financial counselling, newcomer’s orientation, classes and courses and assistance for relocating to a new assignment of transitioning from the military to civilian workforce. The A&FRC also works together with base helping agencies to hold events recognizing volunteer efforts and morale functions for the families of deployed Airmen.
“We are in the service industry helping members take care of those things that are dearest to their heart,” said Bernice E. Milton, 374th Force Support Squadron community readiness specialist. “We know they have their mission but when they need some individual assistance away from that mission and outside their workplace they can come here for that personal touch.”
At Yokota Air Base, the A&FRC has additional responsibilities in comparison to their stateside counterparts. Installations overseas are responsible for coordinating Noncombatant Evacuation Operations, where civilians are evacuated from another country generally in response to a deteriorating security situation caused by natural disasters or potential armed conflict. In Japan specifically, there is also a mandatory driver’s course to familiarize people with local road laws, such as driving on the left side of the road. Both NEO and the driving course are included in Yokota’s newcomer’s orientation known as Right Start.
“Our Right Start program is a good one-stop-shop to get all of your initial briefings and some in-processing requirements out of the way at one time and make sure everything’s taken care of,” Milton said. “So when you get to your new unit you don’t have to worry and can focus on the mission.”
Milton emphasized the importance of ensuring that family members are aware of the NEO process and encourages all spouses to attend the NEO townhall meeting, which will be held on Jan. 23 from 9-11 a.m. at the A&FRC building located near the Yokota Community Center.
“I think it’s something that our spouses need to know about because while our Active Duty members may get all the briefings, what about their families?” Milton said. “They may not have been to Right Start and received this information so if their service member is deployed and the base has to evacuate the spouse has to know what’s going on.”
Having recently been refurbished, the A&FRC building offers multiple classrooms in addition to hosting the Retiree Activities office, the Red Cross and the Military & Family Life Counselling program. According to Milton there are classes scheduled out all the way into next year covering a wide variety of topics. Financial counselling, sponsorship classes, the Transition Assistance Program, pre-marriage briefings and expecting parent classes are just a few examples available at the A&FRC.
With all of these services, the A&FRC provides continuing support to the Yokota community offering help and quality of life improvements.
“I get to help people; so at the end of the day I always feel like I’ve accomplished something,” Milton said. “If I was just crunching numbers and writing contracts, don’t get me wrong those jobs are worthwhile and important, I wouldn’t be getting that hands-on experience helping another individual. To me that’s the most rewarding thing you could ever do, knowing you’ve positively touched someone’s life that day.”