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Base helping agencies look at civilian health and wellness

Posted 10/21/2010   Updated 10/21/2010 Email story   Print story

    


by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


10/21/2010 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The health and wellness of Department of Defense civilian employees is a top priority not only for Hanscom, but also the entire Air Force Material Command. Since the command has a predominantly civilian workforce, senior leadership feels it is important for them to know what services are available in times of need.

A group of helping agencies, known as the Integrated Delivery System, meets monthly to discuss health and wellness initiatives for the base community. This group, which is mandated by AFI 90-501, consists of representatives from the Airman and Family Readiness Center, Family Advocacy, mental health, safety, chapel, Health and Wellness Center and more.

The team focuses on integrating services and avoiding duplication in the areas of violence awareness, intervention and prevention; sexual assault prevention; suicide prevention; substance abuse prevention; domestic violence prevention; health promotion; tobacco cessation; financial management and other related human service programs.

"Our small working group comes together to surface and resolve community issues," said Dr. Sondra Albano, director of the Airman and Family Readiness Center and current chair of IDS. "The common goal is to serve people and increase personal and family readiness. We're all doing our jobs, and this ensures we're not doing it isolation of one another."

This statement falls in line with the responsibilities of the team, which include increasing awareness of on-base resources, reducing redundancy, overlap or duplication of services and sharing responsibility for solutions to identify needs.

For a small base, Hanscom is lucky to have an abundance of resources, according to Dr. Albano. The A&FRC alone hosts more than 250 free seminars a year for military, DoD civilians, retirees and family members. Other base agencies provide courses, seminars and services for other needs. In addition, the greater Boston area has thousands of resources for civilians to take advantage of.

"Here on base it may be confusing for civilians to know what they can and can't take part in," said Dr. Albano. "If anyone is unsure of where to go, they can always call the A&FRC to find out. We are a focal point for referrals."

Another program that civilians may not be aware of is the Employee Assistance Program, or EAP. A licensed social worker can provide free counseling on a number of issues to civilian workers, including financial and mental health support.

"EAP was designed specifically for AFMC bases because of our large civilian population," said Dr. Albano. "This may be one program that could benefit from increased awareness and one we hope that more civilians will continue to use."

The IDS team is currently hard at work implementing a community action plan. One objective of the plan is to increase the number of civilians who participate in wellness initiatives.

Wellness initiatives include visiting the Federal Occupational Health nurse, Deanne Casey, in the Health and Wellness Center, increasing the number of classes at the fitness center and several others.

"We know that job related stress is the number one issue for employees across the board," Dr. Albano said. "We want everyone to know there are many resources to help them reduce stress and live healthy lives."

For employees who are interested in learning about the many health and wellness opportunities available for civilians, visit the Hanscom public website and click on the Civilian Wellness spotlight. For other questions or concerns, employees may call the A&FRC at 781-377-4222.



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