Tampa, Florida -- Thanks to MacDill Air Force Base, there is a huge military population in Tampa Bay--active duty and retired.
There's one place those service members and their families can go to get all the help they need: The Airman and Family Readiness Center.
First Lieutenant Ryan Abel recently stopped by the A&FRC on base. He'll be deploying soon to Korea, but his wife won't be joining him during his year abroad. She's moving to Kentucky to be close to her family. But with the help of the A&FRC, she won't be out of touch with First Lieutenant Abel or her family back at MacDill. Abel learned of special email and phone services that will help keep everyone in constant contact.
The Airman and Family Readiness Center is something of a lifeline for the MacDill community--a place to get support and prepare for the future.
"It's a one-stop shop," said Liz Waters, director of the A&FRC. "We provide a variety of services--emergency financial aid, spouse employment...We assist military service members who are transitioning out of the military which means they may be separating or retiring from the military."
Master Sergeant Tami LaMar is one of those service members who'll be "transitioning." She is currently an assistant inspector general with Central Command. But after more than 20 years in the service she'll be retiring soon.
"It's exciting, it's scary," said Master Sergeant LaMar. "It's a whole gamut of emotions right now."
LaMar took the Transistions Assistance Program which is designed to help people move into civilian life with lessons on writing resumes, interviewing and finding a job.
"We speak in alphabet soup. Everything is acronyms and in so much military terminology," said LaMar. "This is a good way to learn how to translate that into more civilian-friendly language."
The A&FRC also has what it calls a "Loan Locker"--a collection of household items like dishes, mattresses, cribs and car seats for families that may be moving to or leaving MacDill.
"It's about providing the support to our families and to assisting them in their time of need, or just on a daily basis," said Waters. "They may just need to talk to someone. And that's what we're here for."
There are two Airman and Family Readiness Centers in the Tampa Bay area--on base at MacDill and in Brandon. They are open to all military branches and their families, as well as active duty Guard and Reserve forces, civilians working with the Department of Defense, contractors and retirees.
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