Are you new to the military, thinking of or know someone who’s joining? Is your mind racing with thousands of questions, but you’re drawing blanks when it comes to starting points for finding information? Have you ever wondered how to get involved with helping wounded soldiers or donating care packages? Maybe you’re looking for assistance with relocating to another base or finding childcare. Well fortune is on your side as today’s military members and families can now access all the answers to their questions with just a click of their mouse or one phone call to Military OneSource 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Information in areas such as Financial Assistance, Deployments, Healthcare, Addiction and Recovery, EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program), Crisis Support, Fitness or just everyday military life, can be acquired through this online information and referral service. This service is provided to active duty members, National Guard, Reservist and their families, free of charge by the DOD (Department of Defense).
After its soft launch, the program was met with hostility for fear it would replace the jobs of many helping agency providers and disconnect military members and their families from the “hands on” approach that so many providers felt was necessary for accurate assistance. But the DOD pressed forward and the program continued to fine tune their services and picked up momentum as the years progressed. It’s now a highly valued asset to the already existing programs offered on ever military installation. Why the turn around in opinion? Providing an online I&R has proven helpful as it quickly answers general questions and provides accurate resources, which in turn, frees up valuable time that can now be spent on individuals who have a much more crucial need. In a sense, the Military OneSource takes care of customer service, much like a front office and also prevents the “run-arounds”, saving you time and money. Not only do they provide answers to your questions, but they also can provide services such as counseling for personal and relationship issues. Quality assistance is taken seriously, as their team of Master’s-level and above, social work consultants provide each person 12 counseling sessions per issue, from the comforts of their own home. This is just one example of what helping agency providers had once feared would steel their jobs away. But in reality, it has been found that many military members and their families don’t seek help because they value their privacy and many don’t want to be seen entering a facility that handles crisis issues. Therefore, those individuals remained unassisted and stress levels reached an all time high point. Military OneSource provides a sense of privacy and has found individuals are less reluctant to reach out for help if they can seek assistance by phone with counselors unaffiliated with their base’s installation. But after their 12 sessions are complete, if further counseling is needed, that’s where the face-to-face begins with trained counselors located at your base’s helping agencies. This has allowed both Military OneSource and your local installation counselors, to work side by side and achieve a common goal.
But this service, as mentioned, is not just for crisis issue, but rather a myriad wealth of information covering every subject military related and beyond. I run a military helping agency and can provide my own experiences with you about taking phone calls meant for other programs. It’s our duty to know our sister organization’s information to provide accurate guidance to the proper program they are searching for, but what happens if the program has no affiliation with our organization? We then become the base’s I&R, flipping through pages in our phone books, searching for the right information, as to not leave them unassisted. But with Military OneSource, it’s as simple as giving them a phone number and knowing they will be in good hands. This allows us to refocus our valuable time and attention on my shops selected mission for our base.
Another frequently sought out subject has been career enhancement support for spouses of military members. Again, Military OneSource has the answer with their Military Spouse Career Advancement Account program. This program has been met with such success, that it sometimes may take a couple of weeks for a response, but all calls will be returned, so please be patient and allow them to assist you within this time frame. It’s a program that will provide financial support for spouses who are seeking a degree, license or credentials that will lead to future employment. I have said it many times over, how I wished this service was in existence during my husband’s early active duty years, but nevertheless very pleased it is here for our new military generation.
As mentioned earlier, active duty, their family members and National Guard may use the program, but it’s also available for free to some DOD civilians, retired and separating members and their immediate family members up to six months following their separation. Airman and Family Readiness Center is just one organization that works closely with Military OneSource. Here you will find your base’s very own I&R program, the Relocation program (RAP), Career Development program, Personal Financial Management program (PFMP), Family Life Skills and more. Another program that works closely with Military OneSourse is the Family Advocacy program, which deals with child abuse prevention, domestic abuse, and more. Another highly valued program that has gained attention through Military OneSource, is the EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program) designed for families with adult and children with special needs and disabilities. For years there has always been a struggle to find assistance for these families and even worse, a proper POC (point of contact) just to acquire information. Thanks to this wonderful online I&R service, that frustration is now a thing of the past and information such as insurance coverage for special treatment can now be found within minutes. I have first hand knowledge of its success, as one of my closest friends launched the EFMP program here at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Through this online I&R, there is no longer the frustration of finding information, care and support these families need, especially when times get exceedingly stressful.
Contacting Military OneSource can be done several ways, including typing in their title in your search box to locate their official website. If you prefer to contact them by phone, you may do so at one of these numbers: Stateside 1-800-342-9647, International 800-3429-6477 or 484-530-5908 (special instructions for your specific international location can be found on their website under “contact us”). More numbers can be found under their “contact us” section. Don’t be uninformed….take charge of your life by taking advantage of this free online information and referral program, there is nothing to lose, but much to gain!