News happening around Little Rock Air Force Base
By Tammy L. Reed, 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 28, 2017
Mike “Rudy” Rudisill, Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant, leads a pre-separation briefing to service members preparing to leave the military. The A&FRC pre-separation briefing is a prerequisite to the Transition Assistance Program’s five-day Transition Goals, Plans, Success Workshop that informs those transitioning to civilian life of services and benefits available to assist them and their spouses during and after separating. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tammy L. Reed)
The Airman and Family Readiness Center, housed in the Walters Community Support Center, employs 14 experts to teach and counsel active duty members, family members, and Department of Defense civilians and offer a large variety of classes, services and programs geared toward its mission.
The center’s mission is to provide world-class programs and services to Airmen and families. They focus on building a stronger community, promoting self-sufficiency, fostering resilience and enabling mission readiness.
“Our thought is, if your families aren’t ready, then you’re not ready,” said Sharon Thompson, A&FRC director.
A&FRC team members participate in a Newcomers’ Orientation twice a month where they brief Airmen, family members and civilians new to the base about the center’s classes and services.
In addition to this orientation briefing, other programs available include the Key Spouse Program in which spouses are encouraged to be peer support for other spouses. Also available are Mobilization and Deployment Readiness programs, such as Hearts Apart Morale Calls, Car Care Because We Care and Give Parents a Break. Another beneficial class is Heartlink, which is an Air Force 101 for new spouses who have recently arrived to the installation or married into the Air Force.
“The military lifestyle is a wonderful lifestyle, but it’s new to people who have no experience with it and they’ve got to find out about it so that they can navigate through it and make the most of it,” Thompson said.
The center even offers classes for individuals who are transitioning out of the military. The most prominent class is the Transition Assistance Program, or TAP. This course is a congressionally-mandated pre-separation briefing followed with a 5-day Goals, Plans and Success workshop.
“It culminates when a member’s getting ready to separate or retire with a capstone event, a one-on-one with a counselor making sure the member has set themselves up for a successful transition,” said Wayne Ojala, Community Readiness Consultant and TAP’s manager.
When individuals are preparing to transition out of the military it is a monumental change – not just for the active-duty member, but also for the entire family.
“I would tell the individual transitioning out to start your process early, and we are the start of that process,” Thompson added. “We’re one of your first stops, you’ll work with us all along, then we’re one of your last stops.”
Marine Staff Sgt. Jerome Wilson Jr. stopped there to take a resume course then participate in TAPs while preparing to leave the Marine Corps.
“I got knowledge and resources from this course. I was taught so much, and gained so much, not just by the information given to us, but the connections and people as well,” said Wilson, who also got good insight in setting himself up for success in his new career. “It was a great course, and I definitely think it was necessary for me.”
Thompson states she is biased but states it would be disastrous if there was no A&FRC. She’s often asked service members about what is most important to them, and while they joke that it’s implied, their response has never been the job, it’s their family.
“If you are not taking care of what is most important to those active duty members -- making sure those families are taken care of so that if they have to deploy, they don’t have to worry about their families – you’re not going to retain those individuals,” she said. “They are going to do something else, because they are going to take care of what is most important to them. And that’s what we do. That’s what we do.”
For more information about the A&FRC, visit www.littlerock.af.mil/Units/Airman-and-Family-Readiness.