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Airman and Family Readiness Center offers Airmen a helping hand

Volunteers from 30th Security Forces Squadron, Bravo Flight, stack care packages for deployed friends and Airmen at the Vandenberg Family Readiness Center April 6. Organizations may submit names and addresses to the Family Readiness Center, and volunteers will assemble and send the care packages without charge. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Plew)

Volunteers from 30th Security Forces Squadron, Bravo Flight, stack care packages for deployed friends and Airmen at the Vandenberg Family Readiness Center April 6. Organizations may submit names and addresses to the Family Readiness Center, and volunteers will assemble and send the care packages without charge. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Plew)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- If you are a first-term Airman, a Vandenberg lifer that is about to deploy, an Airman preparing to separate from the Air Force or a family member to any of the three, the Vandenberg Airman and Family Readiness has something they can offer to you.

The center offers many different programs of which any Airman can take advantage. Programs range from seminars on finances to workshops on career development. Career development workshops do not have to be for the Air Force, as the center offers a Transition Assistance Program to members who are leaving the Air Force.

"We offer the TAPS class, as well as a separation briefing that is mandatory for all members leaving the Air Force 90 days prior to their date of separation," said Sara Galligan, AFRC flight chief. "These classes teach things like resume building, interview techniques and how to dress and act professionally. "

The center puts a lot of emphasis on being financially responsible. A 2006 community assessment was completed and Vandenberg ranked the highest among self-reported financial difficulties, Mrs. Galligan said.

"First-term Airmen can actually receive a free oil change if they will come in and set up a budget," said Sue Boshell, an AFRC community assistant consultant.

Financial services that the center offers also include home-buying seminars, investment seminars, as well as a food pantry and loan opportunities for Airmen who are having a rough time financially.

"We are trying to keep Airmen away from taking a payday loan," Mrs. Galligan said. "So the Air Force has started what is called the 'Falcon Loan.'"

The Falcon Loan is a no-interest, short-term loan that Airmen can receive by filling out a few papers in a matter of minutes. Anyone needing money for emergency travel, medical expenses, mortgage/rent help or is having car problems should come in and see about the loan, Mrs. Boshell said.

The center also offers Airmen who are stressed out a chance to talk to someone who is licensed and confidential as long as they are not a threat to themselves or people around them.

"We offer a break from stress with our military life consultant," Mrs. Galligan said. "They will meet up with you at a discussed location and no notes are kept, just talking."

Stress can be common in the military, especially when a deployment is in the future. The AFRC has programs put in place that can support both the deployer and their family.

"We have programs that allow members deploying to keep in contact with their families while they are gone," said Tech. Sgt. Molly Dzitko, the NCO in charge of the AFRC. "(There is both) a phone card that we provide or morale calls that allow families to call their deployed members in their deployed environment."

The center also coordinates a Global Hearts dinner every Thursday night at Breakers dining facility for spouses and family members whose loved ones are deployed.

"Thursday nights are a very good thing," Sergeant Dzitko said. "It is a time that spouses can network with not only each other, but also wing leadership which frequently stops to communicate with the spouses."

The center offers many other opportunities for Vandenberg Airmen. To learn more about what the Airman and Family Readiness Center can do for you, visit the Global Hearts Web site on the 30th Services page or call 606-0039.