After opening in 2008, the Soldier and Family Assistance Center continues to make strides toward helping warriors in transition and their families.
“We welcome the opportunity for challenges,” said Dr. William Clark, director of SFAC. “When we overcome them I know we’ve been successful.”
He said that having effective communication with the Warrior Transition Battalion was a key element in being successful.
SFAC was created in order to support and serve WTB units. The center supports wounded, ill and injured National Guard, active-duty, and Reserve Soldiers entering and exiting service.
Tony Toliver, outreach program director for SFAC, said although they are still at the infancy stage they have already made great improvements. They obtain feedback on what needs to be improved through their needs survey and ICE, the Interactive Customer Evaluation system. SFAC has a customer service rating of 96 percent. Their needs survey allows them to be able to assess the needs of the WTB. Toliver said that the center’s three major areas based on need are employment, financial, and educational services.
SFAC has involved numerous partners in helping to meet the needs of the Soldiers, including nine different colleges and 20 local, state, and federal employers. Other services involving partners include faith-based seminars and classes. The center puts on three to five events a day on top of usual business, Toliver said.
Toliver said that by working with the community and partnerships, the center is able to aid in Soldier needs more efficiently. It gets the word out that SFAC is there for the WTB.The center is also working toward helping families of National Guard and Reserve Soldiers who are not within distance of SFAC by setting up a website and sending out letters.
Sgt. Michael Mateyko, who is visually impaired, receives service from the center and said it was helpful in assisting him in accomplishing his educational and financial goals. “This is a godsend for any Soldier,” Mateyko said. He said that when he first got to the center he wasn’t sure what he needed to do.
“I started in 1972. They didn’t have stuff like this back then,” he said. Besides goals, he said that the center also helped with simple tasks such as directions or help in the computer lab.Aside from service, he also is active around the center with his wife, Jane Mateyko. Jane volunteers at the center by watching children of wounded warriors in the playroom, cleaning, restocking, and making sure they feel comfortable and at home.
“They have a little of bit of everything for the Soldiers,” Jane said. Like Mateyko, Sgt. Osborn Murray worked with SFAC to help him with his goals. “When I first got hurt,” he said, “I wanted to know about the services.”
Murray met Toliver and Clark at the hospital after an accident left him with a broken neck, a stroke, and back problems. He is seeking assistance to help start a school for children that teaches discipline and responsibility similar to the military. Murray recently attended a small business class taught by SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business, to aid in completing his business goal.
“This is a really good haven because there is so much they offer,” Murray said.