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SFAC expands its mission

Soldier and Family Assistance Center officials unveil their new facility following ribbon-cutting ceremony

Published: 11:08AM January 10th, 2013
SFAC expands its mission

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

Visitors tour the Soldier and Family Assistance Center’s new home on the Madigan Army Medical Center campus.

The Soldier and Family Assistance Center marked its relocation on Joint Base Lewis-McChord with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday in a new building located on the campus of Madigan Army Medical Center.

The SFAC will be housed with the Warrior Transition Battalion command group, administrators and social workers in the WTB headquarters building adjacent to the year-old WTB barracks. In the past, the WTB command group, social workers and SFAC were located in different buildings, presenting challenges for wounded, ill or injured service members and those assisting with their care.

“We will finally all be housed together,” Jacqueline Seabrook, SFAC director, said. “It will totally and completely be one-stop shopping.”

The SFAC stood up in 2007 to assist wounded, ill or injured service members back to service-related duty or to help those service members transition out of the military. Services provided at the SFAC include job search assistance, education counseling, financial readiness, and information, referral and social services.

Not only is the SFAC expanding its office space, the resource center is also growing its mission to include wounded, ill and injured service members who aren’t attached to the WTB.

Including those additional service members is in response to the new Integrated Disability Evaluation System, a joint Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs process that determines if wounded, ill or injured service members are fit for continued military duty and what types of benefits they receive upon discharge for a service-connected disability.

Part of the IDES process for every service member going through a medical evaluation board or a physical evaluation board now includes referral to the SFAC regardless of the service member’s unit affiliation. SFAC services have always been available to service members attached to the WTB, but that number will grow to include about 2,000 military members from other units.

“This will increase the population for who the SFAC services and standardize the process,” Seabrook said.

The added responsibilities will also increase the number of SFAC employees, which will grow by eight. A VA representative will be on staff full time to help those service members transitioning out of the military with their VA claims so they leave the service with benefits already in place, instead of waiting the typical three to five months to receive benefits.

“We are here to focus on (service members)’ needs, not mission needs or unit needs,” Amin Arreola, SFAC outreach services coordinator, said. “Our only mission is to heal.”

The new SFAC also includes a free, staffed day care room where families can leave their children during their appointments at the SFAC. There is also a computer lab with 14 new computers that can be used for resume writing and job searches.

Service members moved into the new barracks about 18 months ago, according to Madigan Army Medical Center commander Col. Dallas Homas. His remarks at Monday’s ceremony included praise for retired 6th District Rep. Norm Dicks, a steadfast supporter of the military who helped appropriate more than $17 million for the new buildings.

“These new buildings stand as part of our larger promise to our wounded, ill and injured service members,” Col. Charles Hodges, JBLM commander, said.