SHAW AIR FORCE BASE — Every day airmen, military dependents, retirees and Department of Defense civilians encounter problems they are unable to face alone. Sometimes they require financial assistance for an emergency, help communicating to loved ones who are deployed, assistance in managing stress, and help breaking destructive habits like smoking or drinking, someone to talk to, or help transitioning out of the military.
Military installations possess many different agencies to provide support for their communities. Some of these helping agencies are Family Advocacy, Health and Wellness Center, the Chapel, Airman and Family Readiness Center, Mental Health Flight, and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.
“It is very important to be ready at a moment’s notice to do what our country calls us to do,” said John Kennedy, 20th Force Support Squadron school liaison and a native of Savannah, Ga. “Sometimes issues can get in the way, so it is important to have someone to work on those particular issues. We [the base agencies] want to remove the barriers that stop us from doing what we are called to do.”
The helping agencies realized they were not helping their communities as efficiently as they could so, in response, the Integrated Delivery System was created.
“IDS is a team of representatives from the different helping agencies on base,” said Patti Busser, 20th Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy outreach manager and a native of Orlando, Fla. “We come together to make sure that we are not overlapping our services and coordinate the marketing of our resources.”
Busser is the Family Advocacy’s representative for IDS while Kennedy is the school liaison representative.
“If we are all working together we can ensure that we care for the whole community,” he said. “Family members are able to get the same level of service regardless of which agency they go to on base.”
According to Kennedy, one of the reasons IDS was formed was to stop redundancies and save resources. Before IDS, agencies offered the same programs or services.
“We were competing for the same audience to provide the same service,” he said. “[Now] we pool together our resources to meet budget challenges and to make sure we are using our resources wisely and not wasting time or energy. We make a collective effort to come together and see how we can best meet the needs of our entire community.”
“[Working together] saves on staff, money and time,” said Busser. “If I am confident Health and Welfare is offering a good stress management class I don’t need to offer one. Instead I can move on and offer something else.”
IDS members meet once a month to go over what projects each agency is working on. They also combine their efforts in group projects and each agency contributes what resources they can to make the project as successful as possible.
“There are always different projects or things that we are focusing our attention on,” Busser said. “There is something different going on all the time. I think that working for the agencies in the Air Force is probably the best job you can have.”