Military families, veterans support committee tackles issues

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sherree Grebenstein
  • 167AW/PA
The Inter-Service Family Assistance Committee of Eastern West Virginia is planning to hold its third meeting in May which will focus on military children.
ISFAC-East, which originated in November, 2010, was formed in the region to improve the network of services for military families and veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces. ISFAC-East convenes quarterly with its next meeting slated for May 19 at the South Branch Inn in Moorefield, W.Va.
The committee, which currently numbers representatives from more than 25 organizations, serves as a voluntary military cooperative partnership to provide multi-service training and assistance to veterans and military families in the region. ISFAC-East is intended to augment current military family program resources. The network of organizations that comprise ISFAC-East cooperates, communicates, coordinates and collaborates to establish strong family support networks that provide veterans and military families with information, services and support.
The West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing hosted the second ISFAC-East meeting in mid-February at the air base in Martinsburg.
"We had a lot of new representation at February's ISFAC-East meeting with hopes that May's meeting will attract more variation of agencies that can contribute resources for veterans and military families," said Sherry Lewis, manager of the 167th Airlift Wing's Airman & Family Readiness Program.
Lewis, who helped spearhead the creation of the committee, encourages organizations in the region that can provide veterans and family members with information, services and support to step up and join the effort.
The Airman & Family Readiness Program manager said ISFAC-East is about pulling together with one goal in mind: helping veterans and military families in the region.
"We need everyone's help to succeed," Lewis said.
Kathy Olson, manager of Service to the Armed Forces, Eastern Panhandle Chapter of the American Red Cross, briefed participants at the meeting that those serving in the Armed Forces comprise 1 percent of the Mountain State's adult population with veterans numbering 14 percent of the population over the age of 18.
Olson said those statistics underscore the importance of the need for ISFAC-East which can assist veterans and military families in the region.
According to Olson, three words best describe the purpose of ISFAC-East: Outreach, Educate and Assist.
"The Impact of PTSD on Family Life" was the theme of ISFAC-East's February's meeting. Three guest speakers were featured to include: Dr. Jason Malcy, program director for the Domiciliary for Homeless Veterans (DCHV)/GOALS program at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Martinsburg; Dr. Jonathan Stevens, psychologist for Outpatient Intensive Substance Use Disorders Program at VAMC and Dr. Daniela Lupu, director of Psychological Health at the 167th Airlift Wing.
Dr. Malcy addressed the issue of veterans' homelessness and noted the importance of developing community partnerships to tackle the issue. In November 2009, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki unveiled the department's comprehensive plan to end homelessness within five years. Dr. Malcy said one of the components of the plan is developing community partnerships in combating homelessness among veterans.
During the ISFAC-East meeting Dr. Stevens spoke on "The Readjustment Process of Returning Service Members." The VAMC psychologist explained the nature of PTSD and presented vivid examples of how it manifests in Service Members returning from war.
Dr. Lupu discussed "Reintegration into Family Life" and the nature of PTSD. She explained the impact of PTSD not only on marriages, but relationships with children. The importances of building resiliency in both arenas were addressed as well.
For more information on ISFAC-East please contact Olson at kolson@easternpanhandlearc.or or Lewis at