JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska –
As citizen-Soldiers and Airmen, members of the Alaska National Guard train continuously to stay prepared to protect the state and nation during a multitude of circumstances – from devastating earthquakes to international pandemics, or even overseas deployments in support of the United States’ federal missions. But who can our Guardsmen turn to when they or their families are in need of support themselves? The one-stop resource for all needs of Guard members and their families is Warrior and Family Services.
“[Warrior and Family Services has a goal to] educate and empower our Guard members and families to develop skills and encourage behaviors that strengthen self-reliance, promote retention, and enhance readiness within the Alaska National Guard and their communities,” said Octavia Thompson, the state Family Program director.
WFS consists of 12 programs and a few dozen staff members who provide a network of programs designed to facilitate those goals. There are Family Assistance Centers located on JBER, the Alcantra Armory in Wasilla, and in Juneau, Fairbanks and Fort Greely.
Of the programs supported by WFS, one in particular has a focus on supporting military children and bringing families together: the Child & Youth Program.
“In this program, we’re here to provide support for every single member of the family.” said Ciera Bell, the lead Child & Youth Program coordinator, “It’s just all about the families.”
This year, to maintain the spirits and joy of the military children and their families, the Child & Youth Program hosted a Halloween event at the Alaska National Guard’s armory on base Oct. 30. During this annual event, children were given treats and options for crafts and games during a movie screening.
“It’s been a really hard two years for everyone, so we wanted to just help alleviate that pressure of being in the house and not knowing what to do for your youth,” said Bell. “Especially with Halloween, which is such a huge kid-oriented event.”
Execution of events like this one often take upwards of a month for planning and coordination, with COVID-19 adding additional challenges to the process. Overall, the goal is to connect families and Guard members while taking mindful safety precautions.
“I think we pretty much succeeded at making it happen while keeping social distancing and other safety measures in effect,” Bell concluded. “I think everyone had a great time.”
For more information about the resources offered by the Alaska National Guard’s Warrior and Family Services, to include more information on the Child & Youth Program, visit the link below: