February 29, 2008

New Family Assistance Center opens in Powhatan

By Staff Sgt. A.J. Coyne
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — A new Virginia National Guard Family Assistance Center (FAC) in Powhatan has brought to nine the total number of facilities in Virginia dedicated to providing assistance and support to Soldiers and their families.

Cindy Leipertz is the FAC specialist at the Powhatan location, which opened on Jan. 28. It’s located at 276 Essayons Drive in Powhatan.  

FACs are designed to be “a one stop shop for Soldiers and their families,” according to Tina Harrison, the state family assistance coordinator.

“We try to get people in touch with other agencies that can help them with their problems, whether it’s legal or employment issues or something as simple as a spouse needing help with yardwork,” Harrison explained.  

Although Family Assistance Centers were originally established to provide assistance to Soldiers and their families during a mobilization, they now provide support to servicemembers and families from all branches of the military regardless of their deployment status. 

The centers focus on six essential services- TRICARE, identification cards and the DEERS system, financial assistance and referrals, crisis intervention and referral, legal assistance and referral, and employment and reemployment issues.

Through contacts with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, American Red Cross, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, local Judge Advocate General offices and chaplains, Family Assistance Centers can put servicemembers and their families in touch with a person or organization who can provide the assistance they need.

Maybe the centers’ most popular and important service is financial assistance and referrals. FAC personnel work with the National Guard Foundation and the Military Family Relief Fund to assist military families who might be struggling financially and need assistance or guidance.
“We can get them to the right place and get things straightened out,” Harrison said. 

In addition to the civilian and military agencies that FAC personnel work with, they also support family readiness groups and work with commanders and their units.

Each FAC is staffed with a professionally trained specialist who is dedicated to providing assistance to servicemembers and their families. Each of Virginia’s FAC specialists has the added first-hand experience of what it means to be either a military service member or member of a military family.

For more information about Family Assistance Centers or to find the FAC nearest you, visit http://vko.va.ngb.army.mil/VirginiaGuard/familyprograms/fac.html.
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