NEWS | Jan. 26, 2011

First deployment brief provides essential information to Sailors and families

By Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Brannon Deugan Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The Fleet and Family Support Center on Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station offered its first Individual Augmentee and Global War on Terrorism Support Assignments pre-deployment briefing to Sailors and their families, Jan. 21.

The course provided pertinent information that is essential for deployment readiness giving the tools needed to help prepare Sailors and their loved ones for any issues they may encounter during a deployment.

"This brief was set up in order to help prepare families as a whole for a service member's deployment," explained Tanya Bradfield, individual deployment support specialist at FFSC. "We want them to know what resources are available to them. We want to make sure everyone involved understands the process and provide them with a checklist of items that needs to be done prior to a service member leaving."

One of the most important topics discussed during the course was enrolling and updating information on the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System.

"NFAAS is used to track members that are going on IA," said Mrs. Bradfield. "It's a means of communication between the service member, their family, their command and me as the IA coordinator."

According to Mrs. Bradfield, one of the most important features of the NFAAS is that it can be utilized during a natural disaster which allows a family to keep in touch with their deployed service member. If the family has to leave the area, they can log onto the site and post where they have gone. This allows the service member to be able to view updates on their family to help ease their concerns.

"I can log onto NFAAS to see what families need. I can then call the family to find out what issues they may be having and see if I am able to help them in any way," said Mrs. Bradfield. "NFAAS is important because it serves a series of vital roles, for myself, the deployed member and their family."

The FFSC is available to help assist families on all issues; however, careful planning can help eliminate unwanted stress. Specific items addressed during the briefing included: emergency phone numbers, contact information for home and auto repairs, ID cards and vehicle tags.

"The family needs to sit down and make an emergency contact list, including basic information such as where to take a car for repairs. That information can be very helpful for the spouse left behind and they will be bettered prepared should something unexpected occur," Mrs. Bradfield explained.

Navy Reservist Lt. j.g. Richard Hodgkiss, an intelligence analyst from Columbia, S.C., and his wife attended last week's briefing and have already begun preparing for his upcoming IA deployment. They have discussed the best ways for normal business to continue in their family while Lieutenant Hodgkiss is deployed.

"Communicating with my wife about how she would like to take care of things during my deployment has made us both feel more comfortable," Lieutenant Hodgkiss said. "She has told me what she would prefer to handle on a case by case basis and what she would prefer to be handled prior to my deployment."

Communication between the member and spouse is important to allow both parties the opportunity to feel at ease about how business on the home front will continue during a deployment.

"I cannot stress enough that communication is important so that there are no worries down the road. Miscommunication can lead to all kinds of emotional and psychological issues about the unknown," explained Mrs. Bradfield. "When couples talk to each other they can express their worries and concerns, and by doing this, it relieves the member and the family member of unwarranted stress, making the deployment as smooth as possible."

"The best advice I can give any family is to make the deployment as enjoyable as possible," she said.

"Resources are available to help a service member or a family member through deployment; we don't ever want someone to feel as though they are alone in this process because they are not." Mrs. Bradfield concluded.

For more information contact the FFSC at 764-7480.