Nancy Thomas-Mainor, Fort Bliss ACS director said, “Programs help empower Soldiers and family members,” in her office at Fort Bliss, Texas, Jan. 8, 2021. | Photo By Stephanie Santos
It’s a common military-life scenario: receiving orders, packing, moving, and unpacking, while still trying to navigate through a new unit and local community. Then, just when the tempo becomes normal, a new set of orders are delivered, and the relocation cycle begins again.
However, this cycle is not the same for everyone. While a new duty station can bring curiosity and excitement, it may also bring fear, loneliness, financial hardship, and stress.
To help combat these challenges, Army Community Service offers Soldier and Family support resources for everyone connected to the military community.
“I see ACS as a bridge connector to assisting Soldiers and family members in navigating the military culture,” said Fort Bliss ACS Director Nancy Thomas-Mainor.
“Our programs have a direct impact on readiness of the force and promote informed and empowered families. They are vehicles that will help our Soldiers on their military journey,” she said.
Mainor added that ACS is committed to helping build strong military communities and reducing transition challenges. Assistance offered through ACS includes educational programming through employment and financial readiness, outreach services, and counseling.
She noted that one challenge is getting the word out to young Soldiers and families, and reassuring them that there are so many avenues of help within the ACS community—all free of charge.
“I always begin speaking to newcomers by sharing the benefits of connecting with ACS, and telling them that by enrolling in one class they are taking the first step,” Mainor said. “I advise spouses to begin with the Army Family Team Building program; this provides an overall introduction into the military.”
Mainor said that after attending classes, Soldiers and spouses are eager to learn more about military benefits and start sharing the information among friends and peers.
“ACS has evolved from the cookie-cutter approach to a more tailored and responsive one that meets the current need,” said Mainor.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous communication challenges, ACS has stayed connected with the military community through virtual training, classes, and individual appointments.
“As new tactics and approaches are created, ACS has adapted training to support a broader aspect of learning,” she said.
Mainor credits social media for giving ACS the flexibility to get feedback from the community on keeping learning material current and relevant.
The past seven years as ACS director have given her a chance to meet Soldiers and Family members that are new to the military and share useful information about ACS.
“To see the signs of relief and hope in their eyes is so exhilarating for me,” Mainor said. “I truly believe in the mission of ACS and the support that is provided to the military community.”