In less than a month, instructors in The Basic School’s Instructor Battalion and their families will have a single place they can bring family and personal issues.
On the upper deck of Cox Hall, a family readiness center is being built to house offices for the chaplain, the family readiness officer and a family readiness assistant together with a family-friendly waiting room. Just down the hall will be a conference room they can use for group activities.
Maj. George Camia, commanding officer for Instructor Battalion’s Combat Service Support Company, said he got the idea from the Combat Logistics Regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune,
N.C., where he saw how well a similar setup worked.
“Whenever the chaplain and FRO are co-located, you really do get a synergistic effect,” Camia said. Under this arrangement, for example, a chaplain counseling a Marine or sailor can step next door and ask the family readiness officer what programs on base might help the service member resolve his or her issue.
Becky Stockwell, the battalion’s acting family readiness officer, agreed, saying she and the chaplain often discuss the types of issues they’re seeing and the resources to deal with them, and might collaborate on a workshop or other event.
“I will also send Marines to the chaplain who are struggling and need counseling,” she said.
Perhaps equally advantageous is the center’s location in Cox Hall, which houses CSS Co.
Now, the office of Navy Lt. Jonathan Rozendaal, the chaplain for the battalion and for TBS, is located on the other side of Camp Barrett, in what he calls “officer country,” which he said can be intimidating to junior Marines who don’t want student officers to see them seeking counseling from the chaplain.
“This was an effort to make a place where the Marines would be comfortable going,” he said.
Since Rozendaal is doubling as the TBS chaplain, he will also retain his current office and divide his time between the two.
A parking lot next to Cox Hall will serve the new center, and visitors will be
able to enter and exit discreetly through a side door.
Currently, group activities like Bible studies, book club meetings and marriage enrichment workshops often have to meet on the main side of base, which is unfamiliar to many family members, Camia said. The new conference room around the corner from the family readiness center will provide a more convenient space for such activities.
Camia envisions service members who work in the building stepping upstairs for a couples’ lunch and then returning to work, the Single Marines Program using the space for video game tournaments, and people who attend events in the conference room stepping down the hall to chat with Rozendaal.
Berlinda Castillo, the battalion’s family readiness advisor, said the objective is to have the conference space booked for activities no less than once a week.
“Our main goal is to build more of a camaraderie in Instructor Battalion,” she said, noting that the unit’s family readiness activities have recently been getting a higher level of response than ever before.
Camia said the opportunity to consolidate the offices and conference room presented itself during the building’s recent refurbishment. He hopes to have the new space furnished and ready by the time the battalion gets a new family readiness officer on Aug. 20.
He said the chaplain and family readiness officer play a key role in maintaining the health of the battalion and need to be as accessible as possible to service members who are having personal difficulties that can lead to bigger problems.
“Typically, by the time I get involved it’s almost too late,” Camia said. “The FRO and chaplain can intervene way ahead of time and get that Marine back on track.”
— Writer: firstname.lastname@example.org