WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 27, 2015) – “Soldiers will do anything if they know their Families are being cared for,” said Lt. Gen. David D. Halverson, referring to Army Community Service, or ACS, which is committed to caring for them.
Halverson, who serves as the assistant chief of staff for installation management and as the commander of the Army’s Installation Management Command, spoke during a ceremony in the Pentagon Courtyard, July 24. The event marked the 50th anniversary of ACS, which stood up July 25, 1965.
Lt. Col. Emma M. Baird, founder of ACS, changed the Army philosophy about what Families mean to the Army and its readiness, he said. Halverson called the year 1965 “a turning point for us.”
Rob Hansgen, a program analyst with the Office of the Chief of Staff for Installation Management, spoke before the ceremony and provided context to Halverson’s remarks.
Following World War II, he said, the military began a massive drawing down. However, postwar marriage rates among Soldiers increased to levels not seen earlier. By 1960, Army Family members outnumbered uniformed personnel.
In response to growing Family populations, the Army established a Family support program under the deputy chief of staff, G-1, he said. But in 1963, when an ACS program was proposed to support Army Families, Army leaders rejected the proposal, claiming they “were not leading a social services corps.”
Baird was assigned to the Army Emergency Relief and Personnel Affairs Offices. That experience led her to create the structure and organization of a Family services program that was to become ACS, Hansgen said.
Army leaders reassessed their earlier decision and established ACS, with the mission of delivering Army Family programs, he continued.
With the creation of the All-Volunteer Force, or AVF, in 1973, the Army once again reassessed its Family programs because of the need to recruit Soldiers to replenish its ranks. Army leaders began to recognize the link between a quality force and family support. To sustain the AVF, more and better comprehensive Family programs were needed, Hansgen related.
In 1983, Gen. John A. Wickham, then Army chief of staff, recognized the necessity for the Army to clearly articulate a philosophy of how the Army would take care of its Families, then and in the future, he said.
Wickham envisioned a partnership between the Army and its Families. In his white paper “The Army Family,” Wickham cited the changing needs of the Army as it recruited the AVF, he said.
Moving ahead to today’s Army, Halverson focused on leadership’s support for ACS. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno reinforced Wickham’s vision with his commitment to Soldiers and their Families.
The Army’s chief of staff often ends speeches with a line that has by now been heard by every Soldier in the Army. Saying that it emphasizes the chief’s, and the Army’s commitment to Families, Halverson quoted his boss: “The strength of our nation is our Army. The strength of our Army is our Soldiers. The strength of our Soldiers is our Families. And, that’s what makes us ‘Army Strong.'”
P.K. Tomlinson, chief of Soldier and Family Programs, Office of the Chief of Staff for Installation Management, who also spoke before the ceremony, outlined ACS services, noting that ACS “does more than hand out welcome packets to Soldiers transitioning to new duty stations and running the Lending Closet.”
ACS offers programs to active- and reserve-component Soldiers and Families through ACS Centers and community outreach services around the world, she said.
Programs include: Army Family Action Plan, Army Family Team Building, Army Volunteer Corps, Exceptional Family Member Program, Employment Readiness Program, Family Advocacy Program, Financial Readiness Program, Army Emergency Relief, Information and Referral, Mobilization and Deployment Readiness Program, Relocation Readiness Program, Survivor Outreach Services, and Soldier and Family Assistance Centers.
RECOGNITION FOR SERVICE
Halverson then recognized three individuals for their outstanding ACS service to Soldiers and Families, as they helped him with cutting the large anniversary cake.
Laurie Brown has served in various positions within ACS centers in the United States and in Europe since 1997. She is serves now as the director for ACS on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
Rich Stagliano was commissioned in the Army Medical Services Corps for social work services in 1971. His first assignment was chief of ACS on Fort Eustis, Virginia. Stagliano retired from the Army in 1995. As an Army civilian, he has served the Army Family Advocacy Program for almost 15 years. Stagliano will retire at the end of the month, ending 38 years of total Army service.
Colleen Tuddenham also served in the Army as an officer. She began her career with ACS at Vint Hill Farms Station, Virginia, in 1987. One of her accomplishments includes standing up the Emergency Family Assistance Center in support of the Families of the victims of the Pentagon attack on 9/11. She also assisted with the creation and activation of the 33 Soldier and Family assistance centers, which served the wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and their Families in the years, which followed the 9/11 attacks. She will retire from civilian service at the end of the month, after having served the Army for 33 years.
Soldiers can find out more about ACS on their website, at www.myarmyonesource.com.