Family support center changes name, scope of duty includes single Airmen and families

Two Airmen enjoy lunch at the Airman and Family Readiness Center grand opening Oct. 12.  The focus will now include the single Airman. (U.S. Air Force Photograph by Jamie Haig)

Two Airmen enjoy lunch at the Airman and Family Readiness Center grand opening Oct. 12. The focus will now include the single Airman. (U.S. Air Force Photograph by Jamie Haig)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla -- The Hurlburt Field Family Support Center officially changed its name to the Airman and Family Readiness Center and announced a change in policy and responsibilities at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 12.

Col. Norman Brozenick Jr., 16th Special Operations Wing commander, cut the ribbon while more than 50 Airmen, families and Fort Walton Beach Chamber members cheered.

"Since the Gulf War, we've focused on what was needed - to care for our families, our spouses, children and most of all our Airmen," Colonel Brozenick said.

The changes were evident as visitors toured the center.

There is now more emphasis on the single Airman and a direct link to mission readiness in addition to helping families.

"This is a big thing," said Bill Lawson, A&FRC director. "And we're fortunate to have a few more re-sources available than most bases."

Most programs at the A&FRC are now open to all military, civilian personnel and families, retirees, National Guard, Reserve and other uniformed members.

"In addition to the Transition Assistance Program, we've got a Veteran's Affairs counselor on site twice a week and two Disabled American Veterans volunteers," Mr. Lawson said. "We were involved with the first Operation Homecoming and will work to see that it includes the unmarried Airmen in the future."

Other programs include a military spouse employment advocate at the center once a week, Heart Link and Hearts Apart programs that assist new military family members and families of deployed Airmen respectively.

A loan closet allows Airmen to borrow necessary items such as pots, pans, irons and other items for up to a month's time during a PCS move.

The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles is in the center every Thursday from 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Airmen and family members can get driver's licenses and everything else available at an office downtown in minutes instead of hours.

"We've been stationed here seven years and utilize their (A&FRC) services a lot," said Renee Marquis, wife of Staff Sgt, Dwayne Marquis, 16th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "In fact, I just got my driver's license renewed before the grand opening - it's great."

Families of deployed members tell of the work the 10 staff members and more than 100 volunteers do for them while their loved ones are away from home.

"Tech Sgt. Diane Thomas, A&FRC readiness NCO stays in touch with me constantly," said Liz Hanssen. Her husband, Capt. Eric Hanssen, 823rd RED HORSE, has been deployed for six months. "She sends us information on Hearts Apart, the playgroups, and most important, hurricane preparedness information. They look out for us while he's deployed and keep us informed."