As many organizations across Fort Leonard Wood have adapted to teleworking during the COVID-19 response, the staff at Army Community Services wanted to remind the community that their services are still available, whether by phone or email.
Shinae Young, Financial Readiness program manager, said her team had to temporarily cancel on-site training sessions, but they are continuing their financial counselling services by phone. FRO is also providing support to the Army Emergency Relief team on Fort Leonard Wood.
“We are still doing almost everything telephonically,” she said. “We do (support) AER and have already processed a handful of AER cases.”
For Soldiers or their families who are experiencing a financial emergency, call Patty McDonald, AER specialist, at 573.596.7505, or reach her through email at email@example.com.
The Employee Assistance Program and Army Substance Abuse Program are also teleworking to assist Soldiers, families and civilians at this time, said Polly Guthrie, ASAP manager.
“EAP is offering free and confidential services for active duty (service members), family members, civilians and civilians’ family members,” she said. “The program delivers brief solution-focused assistance with the goal of providing resolution to issues optimizing productivity and improving wellness.”
The EAP office can be reached at 573.596.0320, or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Family Advocacy Program team, whose goal is to promote the prevention, early identification, reporting and treatment of child and spouse abuse, is responding to phone calls from any community members in need of assistance.
“FAP staff are continuing to develop and post prevention material on the Fort Leonard Wood ACS Facebook page regarding healthy parenting and relationships, crafts with kids, tips for preventing family violence and self-care,” FAP Manager Shawn Steen said. “Domestic abuse victim advocates continue to provide 24/7 response to those in crisis, maintain daily contact with clients, and provide resources for those in need. The New Parent Support staff continue to work with parents via phone and social media, to offer parenting skills and support.”
The New Parent Support Program – which falls under FAP and is designed to provide individualized support for parents of children up to 3 years old – has social workers on staff who check up on new mothers in the hospital. Community members can reach staff by phone at 573.855.3056, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate and Family Violence Response hotlines are manned 24/7, and their numbers are 573.528.5784 and 573.596.0446, respectively.
FAP training sessions are currently unavailable, but Steen said his office is working to bring them online via tools like video-conferencing applications.
Steen, who is also a licensed clinical social worker, offered advice for many who have had to telework due to the virus.
“Change is often challenging,” he said. “I would encourage people to focus on the things that are going well. Take time for self-care. Schedule some of the normal activities with co-workers – if you had a lunch group that gathered every day, utilize social media and continue those activities. Remain active and schedule times to take a walk or get away from your work station.”
For him and his staff, however, this situation has brought about a renewed passion for helping people, he said.
“Sometimes in the everyday hustle and bustle of life, we get lost in the routine,” he said. “While COVID-19 has elevated concerns on physical and emotional levels, it seems to have also pushed us to self-reflect. Amongst the staff, there are many ways this situation has brought about creativity and an increased willingness to want to do more.”
In the event community members are uncomfortable discussing issues by phone with FAP or any of its abuse prevention programs, they are welcome to message the ACS Facebook Page, which is monitored by Steen and his teammates.
“We monitor Facebook every day,” he said. “Any questions that come through, (the FAP team) is on the phone to ensure we get answers out to anyone in the community that is seeking assistance.”
While Guthrie prefers to work with her ACS teammates in the office, she said the social-distancing protocols and workflow changes are for the best.
“The military and Department of Defense community is a huge family,” she said. “This is a new and uncharted path that we are traveling on, as we all very much want things to resume to normal. We miss our families, we miss our work family, we miss our routines, but more importantly, we need to help reduce the spread of this virus. We need to stay hunkered down, follow higher-level guidance and do the right thing. This will help reduce the risk of spreading the virus in our own community, protecting ourselves, our families and neighbors.”
Guthrie said she sees this time as an opportunity for solidarity, and she encouraged community members to check up on loved ones, even if they cannot be physically present.
“This pandemic has proven to be a test of resilience, integrity, honesty and self-preservation skills,” she said. “Reach out and check on your family, friends and colleagues during these trying times. Chances are you may help not only yourself, but also the person that you reach out to.”
ACS program offices can be reached 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Young recommended scheduling a telephone counseling session for those who may be in a tough place financially. The FRO phone number is 573.596.0212.
Resources for Financial Wellness during COVID 19 Pandemic
The FRO also released a list of resources and helpful links for financial wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is included below:
Restructure your finances
- Create a new financial spending plan
- Address concerns regarding investments
- Contact any creditors you may have difficulties paying due to income loss or layoff
- Schedule a confidential financial counselling session with ACS at 573.596.0212
- Avoid making impulsive decisions such as pay day loans. Remember, by law, they are off limits to service members and their families
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a website dedicated to the issues that may arise from the pandemic.
- Visit Missouri’s unemployment website.
- Don’t qualify for unemployment? Look for benefits through the Federal Emergency Management Agency under Disaster Unemployment Assistance
Local and Federal charity assistance
- Food pantries, brown bag lunches, etc.
- New Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program guidelines can be found here.
- Food Banks:
- Federal Employees Education & Assistance Fund
- Army Emergency Relief (for service members and their families) can be reached at 573.596.3154 or 573.596.7505
- Federal Trade Commission has released information on coronavirus scams:
Federal coronavirus tax relief information can be found here
Missouri citizens and employees affected by COVID-19