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Navy Family Support

(Note: The below article is from the Aug 97 edition of Navy "All Hands" Magazine. While it is written with Navy personnel in mind, for the most part, the information is applicable for members of all of the services.

This section of Navy rights and benefits has information on where Navy family members can receive family-related assistance. From guaranteed student loans available through the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, to the free care provided under the alcohol and drug abuse treatment programs, Navy people can go to a variety of Navy-sponsored and Navy-related organizations for assistance.

Out of concern for the total welfare of Navy members and their families, the Navy has gone beyond the primary considerations of medical and health care, housing and survivor’s benefits to offer assistance in many other areas.

Navy Family Service Centers (FSCs)

Navy family service centers (FSCs) assist personnel, their families and single service members with a variety of support services.

FSCs provide a comprehensive information and referral service on a wide range of programs and services, including resources available in both the military and local civilian communities. FSC staff members and volunteers work to coordinate people-oriented support and assistance programs, and assist with personal or family problems.

Each FSC offers assistance and support to existing efforts such as command sponsor programs, command ombudsmen, and pre-deployment and deployment support services. FSCs have information to ease the relocation process and offer educational programs to military families, such as budgeting, finding a new job after a family move, parenting classes, helping families improve their communication skills and many others.

FSCs also offer hospitality kits and information about recreational facilities, child care centers, Navy Lodges and how to get a passport before going overseas. They are ready to help in obtaining legal aid, voting registration information or help with a “special needs” child. They have reference libraries about stateside and overseas duty stations, or will refer individuals to the Overseas Duty Support Program for more detailed information about overseas duty stations. They also help individuals and families by referring them to chaplains.

There are currently 72 FSCs throughout the United States and overseas providing services to more than 95 percent of all Navy personnel and their families. Each FSC is staffed with military and civilian personnel who will do their best to provide any kind of information or help needed — and if they don’t have it, they know where to find it.

Navy Family Ombudsman program

In 1970, then-Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt recognized the issues and concerns that are unique to Navy families. In response to those issues, he established the Navy Family Ombudsman program. The volunteer program is governed by OPNAVINST 1750.1D and is designed to provide better communication between Navy families and Navy officials.

The ombudsman is a vital resource to assist the command in discharging the commanding officer’s (CO) responsibilities for the morale and welfare of the command’s families.

The Command Family Ombudsman program belongs to the command and is shaped by the commanding officer’s perception of the needs of the command. The ombudsman is appointed by and works under the guidance of the commanding officer (CO). The CO determines the priorities of the program, the roles and the relationships of those involved in it, and the type and level of support it will receive. The effectiveness of the command ombudsman program in serving the needs of the command and its family is greatly influenced by these decisions.

The ombudsman is the link between the command and the Navy family. This is especially true in deploying commands where the ombudsman is the primary point of contact between the families at home and the command during deployment.

Relocation assistance

The Relocation Assistance Program (RAP), offered by the FSC, provides assistance to all service members and their families relocating from one duty assignment to another or transitioning out of the military. RAP provides information, referral, counseling, education and training in pre-departure planning, destination information, settling-in services and intercultural relations. Some of the direct services include area newcomers’ orientation, distribution of welcome aboard packages and hospitality kits, workshops and handouts with tips on personal packing and shipment of household goods, financial planning, information on moving overseas, dealing with culture shock and tips on returning from OCONUS assignments.

One of the tools used to provide relocation and pre-departure information is the DOD Standard Installation Topic Exchange Service (SITES), which consists of relocation information on more than 300 DOD bases. The SITES categories of information include helpful pre-departure information, availability of temporary and pertinent housing, spouse employment opportunities, child care info, medical, school information, etc.

Spouse Employment Assistance Program (SEAP)

The SEAP is located at Navy FSCs worldwide. The program helps Navy spouses plan careers and find employment.

More than 50 percent of Navy spouses are currently in the work force. Frequent moves make it difficult for a spouse to find a satisfying job and to progress in a career path. Some spouses find they must start over with each relocation.

SEAP helps with general job-search information, tips on education opportunities, career guidance including current information on portable careers, employment workshops, resume writing, SF-171 government employment application preparation and computerized job listings for the local area.

Computers are linked with other FSC locations worldwide so that spouses are able to review job possibilities at the next duty station before they move. For more information on the SEAP, contact your local FSC.

Sponsor program

Knowing what to expect at your new duty station and having a specific person to contact can make the difference between a good or bad move. The Navy sponsor program can help make that difference.

When you receive permanent change-of-station (PCS) orders, you will be assigned a sponsor. Your sponsor will assist you in getting to know the new command and the area where you will live.

If you are assigned to be a sponsor, you should ensure that the incoming service member receives information about the area well in advance of the move. You also should make arrangements to assist the new member and his or her family upon arrival at the new duty station.


Navy chaplains are qualified ministers, priests or rabbis endorsed by their respective religious bodies to provide and facilitate appropriate ministry to military personnel and their families.

They minister according to the tenets and teachings of their respective religious bodies. Those who desire particular religious rites (baptism, bar/bas mitzvah, weddings, etc.) should contact their local chaplain. He or she will assist them personally or refer them to a chaplain of their particular faith.

Chaplains not only have responsibilities for the spiritual welfare of their own faith community and facilitation for ministry to other faith communities, but also the care of all sea service personnel and their families. They are professional assets to the command in responding to human needs.

Alcohol and drug abuse treatment

Drug and alcohol treatment is provided as needed as part of the TRICARE health benefit. Depending upon the severity of the illness, treatment may be as uncomplicated as early intervention counseling and outpatient care, to intensive outpatient and residential care.

Sailors will be diagnosed and treated in any of a variety of treatment facilities within the Armed Forces. Depending upon the outcome of treatment, Sailors will either be returned to duty or separated from the Navy.

Family members may be diagnosed and treated at these military facilities or by civilian health care providers at civilian treatment facilities, depending upon where they live, the severity of their illness and which of the three TRICARE options they participate in. Cost to family members will vary depending upon these factors.

Each command has a Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor (DAPA) who can provide counseling and advice about drug and alcohol use as well as referral to a diagnostic and treatment facility for Sailors and their families.

Exceptional Family Member (EFM) Program

The EFM program identifies family members who have long-term disabilities, chronic illnesses or who require special education needs. The program assists Navy detailers and service members in assignment planning to areas where special medical and special education needs will be met.

The program is mandatory in accordance with OPNAVINST 1754.2A. Eligible family members include spouses, children or parents who are enrolled in DEERS and residing with the service member.

Command points of contact and EFM coordinators at military medical facilities are available to assist families through the enrollment process. Service members should contact their command career counselor for additional information.

An EFM video (PIN# 805996), “The Exceptional Family Member Program” is available at each command, FSC or military treatment facility for general Navy training. For the program to be successful in its mission, enrollment should be completed at least nine months prior to a Sailor’s projected rotation date.

Navy Family Advocacy Program (FAP)

The Family Advocacy Program (FAP) is a quality-of-life program that addresses social problems of Navy families. Provided through family service centers (FSCs), family advocacy centers (FACs) and support from medical treatment facilities (MTFs), services include prevention, identification, education/treatment, follow-up and reporting of child abuse/neglect and spouse abuse.

The intervention focus is on both victims and offenders. Secondary prevention programs include spouse abuse victim support services and clinical support services to children who witness violence.

Another aspect of the FAP prevention effort is the Youth Outreach program designed to improve character, skills and resilience among Navy youth. Navy policies exist to ensure leadership involvement, service member accountability, victim safety and support, investigation guidelines, legal review and reporting procedures.

New Parent Support Program (NPSP)

The Navy's New Parent Support (NPS) teams provide in-home and center-based parenting education and support services to expectant and new parents who need individualized and comprehensive support. This voluntary program is designed to offer the skills and tools necessary to increase a parent’s knowledge of child development and understanding of realistic expectations for their children, enhance parent-child interaction, improve family functioning and reduce possible negative health outcomes such as child abuse and neglect or pregnancy risks.

Services range from information and referral to parent education classes to intensive home visiting which prepare parents for the challenges of parenthood. The team members consist of community health nurses, home visitors and program assistants who are specially trained to provide information, support and education to our families with complex needs. This service is currently available at either your local FSC or MTF at more than 40 installations worldwide.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS)

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) is a private, nonprofit, charitable organization. The mission of the Society is to provide — in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps — financial, educational and other assistance to active-duty and retired members of the naval service of the United States, and their eligible family members and survivors, when in need; and to manage funds to administer these programs. The Society also sponsors visiting nurse programs, thrift shops, food lockers and gives layettes or “junior seabags” to new parents.

Financial Assistance. NMCRS financial assistance may be provided for a variety of valid needs ranging from setting up a household and paying overdue rent and utility bills, to disaster relief and emergency travel associated with the illness or death of an immediate family member. The Society cannot assist with the purchase of non-essentials, and it will not be a source of supplemental income to persons who habitually live beyond their means.

Details on the Society’s assistance policies are contained in the pamphlets, “Here for You Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” and “Fundamentals of Assistance” They are available at your nearest NMCRS field activity. Application for assistance may be made at any of the nearly 250 ashore and afloat offices around the world, or through the American Red Cross; Army Emergency Relief; Air Force Aid Society; or Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. In case of emergency leave where no NMCRS or other service relief agency is available, commands are authorized to provide funds from their welfare and recreation fund, and the Society will reimburse the command for the money advanced to the service member.

Financial Aid for Education. The Society administers a variety of educational assistance programs. Some of these provide grant assistance; others are in the form of interest-free loans. During 1996, 2,573 students and parents received financial assistance for education. One of the most popular education programs of the Society is the Vice Admiral B.F. Travers Scholarship and Loan Program. This program provides approximately 500 $2,000 scholarships to dependent children and spouses of active-duty Sailors and Marines, and to the dependent children of retired Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Under this program, service members may apply for up to $3,000 in interest- free loans per academic year.

Anyone interested in helping the Society may contribute to DON’s annual fund drive, or serve as a volunteer at any of the Society’s offices. Through your support, the Society will always be ready to respond to the emergency needs of active-duty and retired sea service personnel and their families.

Navy Mutual Aid Association

The Navy Mutual Aid Association is a mutual, non-profit, voluntary membership association of current and former sea service personnel and their families.

The Association’s purpose, established by the founders in 1879, is to provide a substantial monetary sum to designated survivors of members through the tax-advantaged medium of low-cost life insurance plans. The staff also helps families of deceased members with the complex procedures necessary to secure the correct amounts of all federal benefits and allowances to which they are entitled, and the settlements of insurance claims from all other insurers.

In case of an unfavorable decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) against a member’s survivors, the Navy Mutual Aid Association will provide an accredited representative to assist in an appeal and follow through until an equitable decision has been made.

The Association provides secure storage space at its headquarters for the safekeeping of vital personal documents for ready reference by members. This facilitates the processing of survivor claims. Other than the cost of membership insurance plans, there is no additional charge for services or representation made by the Association on behalf of the member or family.

Navy Mutual Aid is designated an approved financial counselor by SECNAVINST 1740.2 series and can provide commands with informative presentations on government programs for the survivors of military personnel, such as the integration of Social Security benefits, VA Dependency Indemnity Compensation and the Survivor Benefit Plan.

Regular, Reserve and retired officer and enlisted personnel of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and officers of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration may apply for membership in the Association. One must join prior to age 65, but membership then continues for life. Membership privileges are not affected by subsequent separation or retirement from active duty.

For further information, call toll free 1-800-628-6011. From OCONUS, call collect via a commercial operator (703-278-1329); write Navy Mutual Aid Association, Henderson Hall, 29 Carpenter Road, Arlington, VA 22012; or visit our website at

The Fleet Reserve Association (FRA)

Founded in 1922, the congressionally-chartered Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) is the oldest military organization that exclusively represents the rights and benefits of active-duty, Reserve and retired sea service personnel and their families on Capitol Hill.

In addition to direct representation before Congress, FRA conducts legislative seminars on board ships and at military bases nationwide to inform sea service personnel about legislative issues and the importance of voting. FRA also publishes a free, bi-monthly publication, “On Watch” that is available to service members, families and command representatives upon request.

FRA also assists members with individual career problems and offers a wide variety of programs and services to help members personally and professionally — Including health care supplements, life and auto insurance, college scholarships and student loans, discounts, disaster relief and more.

Membership is open to enlisted personnel in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard (regular or Reserve, active duty or retired) and commissioned officers of the sea service with one day of prior enlisted service. More than 162,000 FRA shipmates belong to one of the association’s 323 branches or are carried on FRA’s Membership-at-Large roll.

FRA is accredited with the Board of Correction for Naval Records, the Physical Evaluation Board, the Naval Discharge Review Board, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

For more information, call FRA’s toll-free number 1-800-FRA-1924 or 703-683-1400; fax: 703-549-6610; e-mail: news-fra@fra.org; or visit FRA’s web site: .

Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)

DVA maintains hospitals to care for veterans who cannot afford hospital treatment or whose injuries are a result of military service. The organization handles dependency compensation for service-connected deaths, provides burial flags for veterans and administers life insurance programs for veterans. (See Chapter 18)

The American Red Cross

The American Red Cross provides a total program of assistance to members of the armed forces and their families.

Through its worldwide communications network, available 24 hours-a- day, 365 days-a-year, the Red Cross can help with emergency leave requests and other emergency messages on behalf of Navy and Marine Corps personnel and their families. Also, when regular communication is disrupted, the Red Cross can help by obtaining reports on the welfare of individuals.

In addition, the Red Cross has a program of emergency financial assistance, offers information and referral services, and provides health, safety and lifestyle courses. A variety of volunteer opportunities are available with the Red Cross.

A reciprocal agreement with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society also allows Navy and Marine Corps members and their families to apply for financial assistance through the Red Cross where there is no Society office available. If NMCRS authorizes the assistance, the Red Cross will advance funds on their behalf.

For more information, contact your local Red Cross office or visit the Red Cross Web Site at

Navy Wives Club of America (NWCA)

Navy Wives Club of America (NWCA) was chartered in 1936 with a federal charter being granted in 1984. Chapters worldwide are open to spouses of enlisted personnel serving in the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guards and the active reserve units of these services; spouses of enlisted personnel who have been honorably discharged, retired or have been transferred to the Fleet Reserve on completion of duty; and widows/widowers of enlisted personnel in these services.

The NWCA Scholarship Foundation awards 24 scholarships annually to children of enlisted personnel of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Navy Wifeline Association (NWA)

The Navy Wifeline Association (NWA) is an all volunteer, non- profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for every sea service family. Established in 1965, by and for Navy spouses, NWA has now expanded to include Marine Corps and Coast Guard families.

NWA volunteers provide assistance, information and referral in all matters pertaining to the military or its lifestyle. NWA developed the Navywide Ombudsman Support Network and the Ombudsman Journal. Its chairman serves as the Chief of Naval Operations’ Navywide Family Ombudsman-at-Large. NWA volunteers research, compile, write and edit all NWA publications and coordinate educational seminars. NWA field representatives are now at bases around the world to serve as local points of contact.

The policies and programs of NWA are guided by a board of advisors which includes spouses of both senior officers and enlisted personnel, active-duty personnel and representatives of other service-oriented organizations. Every Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Spouse, family member or active-duty or Reserve member is automatically a member of NWA with no membership fee or registration required.

NWA writes, publishes and provides a variety of informational literature on topics from social customs and traditions to planning and managing financial and personal affairs free of charge.

For information, write NWA, 901 M St., S.E., Washington Navy Yard, Bldg. 172, Washington, D.C. 20374-5067, or call DSN 288-2333 or (202) 433-2333; Fax (202) 433-4622; Home Page http:/www.navy.mil/homepages/bupers.

Other Organizations

Many other organizations and government agencies stand ready to assist Navy members and their families in time of need.

Veterans' organizations

The following organizations also provide information concerning claims and help process them: Disabled American Veterans, American Veterans of World War II, Jewish War Veterans, Non-Commissioned Officers Association, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Blinded Veterans Association, Congressional Medal of Honor Society of the U.S., Legion of Valor of the U.S.A., Marine Corps League, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Inc., United Spanish War Veterans, Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A., Inc., American Veterans Committee, Army/Navy Union of the U.S.A., Catholic War Veterans of the U.S.A, Coast Guard League, Disabled Officers Association, Military Order of the World Wars, Regular Veterans Association and United Indian War Veterans.

State veterans commissions

Most states maintain veterans’ organizations that supervise their particular programs. They can help with federal and state employment assistance, state bonuses, education assistance, land settlement preference and other benefits. These organizations can usually be found under the state government listings in the telephone directory.

Social Security Administration

Social Security provides continuing financial assistance to survivors of deceased members. Retirees also are eligible to draw Social Security at the appropriate age. Your local Social Security office can provide you with details.

Casualty Assistance Branch, BUPERS

Coordinates the casualty assistance calls officer program which notifies the next-of-kin of service members reported missing or deceased; provides assistance, guidance and counseling on survivor benefits; arranges travel for immediate family members to and from the funeral, and arranges for immediate funeral assistance to the surviving spouse or eligible parent(s).

U.S. Military

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