It continues to amaze me as I continue on our soon to be 15 year Army journey how different each assignment can be and the changes that we as spouses, our soldiers, and our families must adapt to. As some know, my soldier and I are on a recruiting assignment.
I knew walking into this new adventure there would be changes to adapt to. This would be the first time in almost 15 years of service that we would be away from a military community. Fort McPherson in Atlanta closed right before we arrived in Georgia. That meant, no commissary, no PX, no health clinic, and to my horror, no ACS.
Thankfully I have had some close army wives who have stayed in contact with me through the wonderful world of social media, which makes it so much easier to maintain close friendships and ties. I had one spouse, who is a great friend of mine from Fort Eustis send my children advent calendars when I was unable to find any here in our area. These relationships do help to keep me somewhat connected to my military family, but yet there is still something missing.
When you are on recruiting duty and you are not close to a military installation, you have to rely on what they call a Soldier and Family Assistance Program Manager (SFAP). This person is basically a one-man or woman ACS. At Fort Eustis, where we had been prior to this assignment, I had LIVED at ACS. I participated in AFAP, was an AFTB instructor and helped my ACS in any way I could. I met some amazing people there and made some wonderful and lasting friendships. I also learned what it takes to run an ACS. There were so many people working together to run all the many types of programs, classes, and events that ACS provides for Army Families. To place all these positions and work on the shoulders of one person seems unfortunate and plain ridiculous, if you ask me.
I am learning too that our SFAP, though nice enough personality wise, is horrible at communication. I have been here in Georgia since May 2011 and I have yet to speak to my FRG leader or receive her information, though I have asked for it numerous times from my SFAP. I have inquired about many programs such as AFAP and AFTB and again have come up empty handed. I can barely get my SFAP to answer emails or return phone calls.
I guess I have become spoiled by the amazing programs I was a part of at Fort Eustis, and I think it is making it harder to adapt. I don’t feel like I should just sit back and accept this. I think there should be more being done to help us adapt to this change and it should be a WHOLE lot easier to get my questions answered. It always amazes me how many of the “higher-ups” I have spoken too about various issues throughout our time in the Army always come at me with the excuse, “Spouses don’t ask questions and they don’t use services that are available to them.” Yet, here I am, an Army spouse, asking questions, and trying to empower myself so that I might adapt better and adjust to this new assignment and I can’t get anyone to return a phone call. That tells me there is something really wrong here.
But, as the Army spouse I have always been, I am determined to prevail. I hope to somehow, someway bring change to this broken system and perhaps finally give spouses who arrive here in the Atlanta Recruiting Battalion some much deserved support! I am just thankful for some amazing battle buddies who have helped to see me through this!