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M&FRCs rely on virtual platforms to serve JBSA community

  • Published
  • By Robert Goetz
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Like many of Joint Base San Antonio’s facilities, the Military and Family Readiness Centers on each installation are closed to the community as a result of shelter-in-place guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although in-person activities and services are suspended temporarily, the centers’ commitment to serving the needs of military members and their families, retirees and Department of Defense civilians continues unabated.

“JBSA Military & Family Readiness Centers stand by ready to assist virtually in all program areas,” said Kathleen Moree, JBSA-Randolph M&FRC chief. “Phone lines are being monitored throughout the day and all messages will be returned.”

Classes and one-on-one appointments are being offered in a variety of virtual ways, Moree said. 

“I encourage our customers to contact the center and leave a message, check our Facebook or reach out to staff members if they previously worked with them,” she said.

In addition, Military & Family Life Counselors are providing tele-health services temporarily to the military community, Moree said.

“These services include telephonic and video non-medical counseling in areas where face-to-face support is restricted due to COVID-19,” she said.

Services that occur at large group settings such as reverse job fairs, which include or require other on- and off-base agencies and organizations to be present, may not be provided, said Joseph Catahay, JBSA-Lackland M&FRC chief.

“However, we continue to provide the community with guidance and access to telephonic one-on-one consultations and information,” he said.

Mandatory sessions for active-duty members are provided virtually, Catahay said.

“Some of these sessions require that service members access them only at specific dates and times and have to be completed within certain periods,” he said. “Suspense dates are established, monitored and followed through by program managers and consultants.”

At JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, the M&FRC is working to adapt as many classes as possible to a virtual format, said Frances Anderson, director.

“Each week we will be posting to our Facebook page the schedule of virtual classes for the following week,” she said. “We are currently offering classes in employment readiness, pre- and post-deployment resiliency and financial readiness, among others.

“Because some of our classes are offered in partnership with other organizations or may not lend themselves to a virtual format, we can’t promise to offer everything that’s listed in our calendar of events, but it’s a great reference,” Anderson said. “If there’s a class listed in the calendar of events that someone would like to attend virtually, all they have to do is call or email and we will let them know if there will be a virtual offering of that class.”

For active-duty members’ mandatory requirements, the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston M&FRC has developed a virtual class or process, Anderson said.

“For example, since switching to a virtual-only service, we have conducted two virtual newcomers orientation/right start briefings, meeting the in-processing requirements for close to 100 active-duty members,” she said. “In addition, the Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program team is providing virtual services and ensuring that service members will continue to be able to meet all mandatory milestones as they prepare to transition to civilian life. 

“It would be difficult to describe the virtual option for every requirement a service member might have, but anyone with a question should call or email our centers and we will ensure they get the assistance they need,” Anderson said.

The M&FRC chiefs want members of the JBSA community to know that social distancing does not mean they’re on their own.

“We may not be able to offer in-person services in our center right now, but Military & Family Readiness is still here to help,” they said. “Our mission of supporting military members and their families in developing readiness and resilience continues and is as vital as it ever has been. We just want everyone to know that we are just a call, or an email or a Facebook message away.”