July 2, 2015

Army Community Service celebrates its 50th year anniversary

Submitted by Kevin Ware
Army Community Service Director

Fort Irwin Army Community Service staff.

The Army Community Service will soon celebrate a significant milestone by celebrating its 50th year of service to Soldiers and Soldier Families.

On July 25, 1965, General Harold Johnson, then the Army Chief of Staff, dispatched a letter to all commanders announcing the approval and establishment of ACS. By 1969, there were 155 ACS centers established throughout the Army. From the initiation of ACS and throughout its history, its volunteers (primarily Army spouses) have ensured the success and support of the many ACS programs.

From the pioneer days to the all-volunteer Army of today, the concept of concern for the welfare of others exists as a foundation of the Army way of life. For years, Army wives: operated lending closets, thrift shops, and nurseries; raised funds to help the needy; assisted in emergencies; taught and trained the inexperienced; provided care and comfort to the ill and bereaved, and; through a grassroots understanding of the Army community, contributed significantly to its stability.

In 1940, the active Army numbered 269,000 of whom only 25 percent were married. The advent of World War II rapidly altered this picture. The rapid buildup of U.S. defensive forces, and their deployment worldwide had a devastating impact on American Family life. Long separations, lack of communication, meager pay, fear, and reports of casualties brought disruption and insecurity to Army families who shared this experience.

Today, 83 ACS centers worldwide remain an integral part of the Army family by supporting unit commanders by identifying quality of concerns and supports restoration of balance by improving predictable standardized services and programs across the Army. The ACS program supports the Army through Family Assistance Centers, Soldier Readiness Processing, Deployment Cycle Support, Operation READY, Family Readiness Groups, Rear Detachments, Military and Family Life Consultants, and special areas such as the Army Emergency Relief Program.

The core programs and services provided by ACS centers have grown significantly from its early days to include: Deployment and mobilization support, assistance with family readiness groups, relocation readiness, group training for pre/post moves, cross-cultural training for bicultural families, guidance counseling before, during, and after the move, lending closet, sponsorship training, financial readiness, Army Emergency Relief, education and financial planning, consumer affairs and Financial Assistance Program, confidential budget counseling and debt management assistance, consumer information and advocacy, Family Advocacy Program, stress and anger management classes, victim advocacy, family violence prevention briefings, New Parent Support Program, Exceptional Family Member Program, Installation Volunteer Program, Army Family Action Plan, Army Family Team Building, Employment Services, and the Survivor Outreach Services Program.

Programs offer real-life solutions for Soldiers and their families. All ACS employees are equipped with skills and the education necessary to assist Soldier customers with information needed to face the challenges of military life today and tomorrow. Think of ACS when deploying or relocating, needing information and referrals, needing financial assistance, employment services, or for crisis and family assistance.

All services offered are a telephone call away and are provided to free of charge. For more information or if you have questions, e-mail the Fort Irwin ACS Director, Kevin Ware, at or call 380-4991.

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