By Janis El Shabazz, Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs / Published April 17, 2014
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) --
Families of Airmen killed on active duty can get support and information from community readiness consultants at their local base Airman and family readiness center, Air Force Personnel Center officials announced.
Established in 2010 at Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations in Dover, Del as a long-term support program for surviving family members, Air Force Families Forever, or AFFF, relocated to AFPC, here in November. This reorganization transferred responsibility from a two person operation to an expansive group of professionals at Airman and family readiness centers Air Force wide. Now, care and support is available where families need it most, at Air Force bases closest to where they live.
"We want to ensure families of the fallen know that they are not alone and that we, their Air Force family, will be there for them in their time of need no matter where they are," said Robin Raine, the AFPC Air Force Families Forever program manager.
The program provides resources, support and information to help families adapt to life without their loved ones. As the program evolved and more family members were added, family care experts realized that decentralizing the program and providing support from installations closest to the bereaved family members would better serve their needs.
"AFFF representatives will reach out to any person the fallen service member identifies on the virtual record of emergency data, (or vRED) not just to the primary-next-of-kin," Raine said. "Decentralizing the program was the answer to providing a larger staffing pool to help family members as well as deliver face-to-face support where practical."
"Representatives at A&FRCs take a proactive approach, supporting families within their geographic area of responsibility with a level of support and assistance directly tied to the specific needs of the individual family," Raine said.
Once the funeral is over, all entitlements and benefits have been paid and the short-term Air Force support entities have concluded services, Air Force Families Forever can carry survivors for the remainder of their journey," Raine said.
A specific prescription for outreach to survivors has been established to ensure no one who was important to the fallen Airman is forgotten. Within 10 days of a service member's death, an A&FRC community readiness consultant from the installation the fallen service member was assigned to will send an introductory letter and information packet to all family members listed on the service member's vRED, explaining who they should contact if they need assistance. Subsequent to initial outreach, spouses, children and parents will be contacted by the A&FRC closest to where they reside four more times during the year leading up to the 1-year anniversary of the date of death.
Even though scheduled contact will discontinue after the 1-year anniversary, family members are welcome to reach out for help and support whenever they need it.
"Airmen can rest assured that we value their families and loved ones," Raine said. "We believe that once you are a part of the Air Force family, you are always part of the Air Force family."