New Guard Smart program provides assistance to Alaska National Guard families
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska National Guard is striving to make finding answers to questions about the National Guard lifestyle easier for guard members and their families.
“We call ourselves Google of the Guard,” Carissa Jones said, who works with the Solider and Family Readiness program.
Starting this month, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson will host quarterly meetings called Guard Smart, which include a variety of short presentations on different aspects of military life.
“Guard Smart is a new training program that we have for our family members — it can also be for our soldiers and civilians — to provide them with all the information that comes with being affiliated with the Alaska National Guard,” Jones said. “All of these resources are available to them, we want to make sure they are aware of what is available.”
The program hosted its first meeting on Nov. 4, touching upon topics such as TriCare, and including speakers from the ASYMCA and the Steven A. Cohen Family Clinic. The meetings, Jones said, allow for families and service members to get all their answers in one place and have a person explain and answer questions in real time.
“So much easier, instead of coming to us every time they have a problem if we’re able to provide that information all at once then they also know that we can provide that information,” Jones said.
According to Jones, most Alaska National Guard members are primarily civilians who come in for drill weekends. That transition, she said, can be tough for new guard families who are not accustomed to the military lifestyle.
“Family members aren’t necessarily used to being a military family. So it’s a little bit more disruptive to their schedule,” Jones said.
Especially when their guard members are away on drill weekends, or are activated in a support status for a mission.
“So if we’re there to help them while they’re helping their service member, it makes it just a little bit easier on them. Takes away a little bit of that stress of the unknown,” Jones said.
Guard Smart is set to take place quarterly at JBER, with additional bi-annual meetings to be held at a variety of statewide locations, supporting service members’ families no matter what part of Alaska they call home.
“If they’re supporting the mission, our mission is to support our soldiers and family members,” Jones said.
The next Guard Smart meeting is set for March 12 at JBER. The Alaska National Guard Child & Youth Programs will also be hosting a day camp for school-age children for families who need childcare during the meeting. Ft. Greely will host their first meeting on Feb. 7, and Juneau will host a meeting on March 25.
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