HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The effects of the Coronavirus reach far beyond physical health, into many areas of daily life – from empty store shelves, to layoffs or lower paychecks, to stress and anxiety.
Military families are not immune, especially those who may have members deployed. However, they are not alone. Air Force Bases have resources available for those in need.
“Your leadership is here for you. We’re behind you 100 percent and we’ll help in any way we can. There are several options on base for our Airmen to get help with household needs or finances,” said 388th Fighter Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Dan Taylor. “I would encourage everyone to explore those, but also remember that we are our greatest resource. If you need help and can’t find it, reach out to your leadership and your first sergeants. We’re family, and we’re in this together.”
Base Airman and Family Readiness Centers are still offering services to care for military members and dependents.
“We remain open to help people, and if we have to we’ll telework, but we are still able to administer our programs,” said Kim Taylor, AFRC flight chief at Hill AFB. “We’re being creative with how we use technology and doing appointments via video call or telephone.”
Centers often have food and household goods available to those in dire need who can’t afford them, or find them anywhere else.
“While the Airman’s Attic and food pantry are available options, people need to work through their first sergeants to get access,” Taylor said. “We’ve had a few people come in this week and get baby wipes, but there are a limited supply of things like canned goods, diapers and wipes.”
Since Airman and Family Readiness Centers rely on donations to keep the shelves stocked, those supplies will dwindle for a time. Families who may have purchased an overabundance of essential supplies are encouraged to share with neighbors in need or to donate them to the pantry.
Taylor emphasized that if the situation deteriorates and an Emergency Family Assistance Center is established, the Commissary and Exchange facilities will be part of the response to keep essential supplies available to Airmen.
Right now, commissaries are still receiving daily deliveries of groceries and supplies, but they are asking everyone to follow a few guidelines to keep the store running smoothly.
“We’re rationing certain items to ensure there is enough for everyone,” said Hill AFB commissary manager Ricardo Edelman. “We’re also restricting access to I.D. card holders only. No guests. We’re also discontinuing ‘Early Bird’ shopping. We're open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. but people should try to come between 10 a.m. and noon. That’s when we get the shipments fully stocked on the shelves.”
For military spouses who are losing employment due to the virus, the Airman and Family Readiness Center can offer financial advice. They also can help with funds from the Air Force Aid Society, which offers interest-free loans. Aid Society loans are available for active duty, Reserve, Retirees, spouses and dependents for a variety of hardships.
“Certainly if someone has lost income and cannot pay their rent or meet their needs, that is something the Air Force Aid Society has always helped out with and I’d encourage people to call us,” Taylor said.
With the closure of restaurants, bars and other businesses across the country, there is also unemployment insurance and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program available for those who qualify based on income. Contact your local state authorities for more information.
Emotional and spiritual support
While chapel services and activities have moved from a physical building to online services, counseling and other spiritual resources are still available to anyone.
“We certainly will offer support to anyone who needs it in whatever format they are most comfortable with,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Ammon Larsen. “Whether that’s in person or over the phone or any other outlet.”
With so many external stressors, widespread crises can take a toll on personal well-being as well as work and family relationships, but perspective and being spiritually-centered can be the greatest help in overcoming those challenges, he said.
“With Coronavirus and now this startling earthquake, we are here for people,” Larsen said. “And if they don’t want to come in, I would tell the whole base right now that these things should cause us to look to our greatest hopes and desires, and how those relate to God as we know him. We should demonstrate love and respect and bring ourselves together.”
There are also counseling options and other resources available through Military OneSource or 800-342-9647.