Helping agencies: Airman and Family Readiness Center

Hand reaching out for other hand
Hand reaching out for other hand

Helping agencies: Airman and Family Readiness Center

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Japan

As a first-term Airman or family new to the Air Force, the change in lifestyle and the demands on the service member can feel overwhelming. Frequent moves, deployments, extended TDYs, last-minute events and trying to find the right work-life balance can drive you to the brink of a nervous breakdown. But, before you reach that point, stop and take a small step back. There are plenty of resources available to assist you. You just need to know where to look. The Airman and Family Readiness Center (A&FRC) is a great place to start.

What is an A&FRC?

Located on almost every Air Force installation worldwide, A&RFCs were created to foster retention and readiness among airmen and build family resiliency. Workshops, classes and events are offered to help with the adjustment to military life. Some programs are designed specifically for active-duty members, while others cater more toward spouses and families. A&FRC work-life specialists include financial and career advisors, transition and retirement experts and military family and life counselors (MFLCs) who can help achieve balance goals.

What are some specific programs?

Two of the more well-known offerings through A&FRCs are newcomer orientations and the Key Spouse program. When you arrive at a new base or installation, orientation is often a mandatory piece of in-processing. These briefings go over specific rules, local customs, driving conditions and other unique details at your new location. Orientation also helps new arrivals figure out where to go when unexpected things pop up at your gaining base. In addition, if you’re on either end of a permanent change of station (PCS), many A&FRCs are happy to loan out dish packs or other necessities you may need until your goods arrive or until you depart.

The Key Spouse program is a unit commander-driven program designed to help establish a communication link between spouses and unit leadership. There is usually at least one key spouse mentor and one key spouse, although many squadrons and groups often have multiple key spouses. These liaisons help disseminate vital information from the commanders and inform commanders if family issues are arising that may need a little extra attention and assistance.

Other offerings

If you’re brand new to military life, A&FRCs offer financial classes such as credit awareness, budgeting and investment 101. For new spouses, workshops like Heartlink help break down some of the more challenging aspects of being a military spouse and provide tools to help wade through them. Are you expecting a new addition? A&FRC is an excellent resource for parenting advice and the Bundles for Babies program, which offers information and a basket full of essential baby items for participants to take home.

For deployed spouses, monthly dinners and special events are often organized through the center just for deployed family members. They also work with other activities such as Auto Hobby and the Youth Center to offer things such as free oil changes or free or reduced childcare for a few hours courtesy of the Give Parents a Break program. If you’re looking to jump back into the workforce, many work-life specialists are happy to help walk you through the tedium of the USA Jobs website and polish your resume.

Military life can be hard to navigate. It’s easy for the work-life balance to shift and to leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. However, knowing where to go and having the professionals at your local A&FRC can help you get to where you need to be.

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