ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- The little-known National Support Element (NSE) in Valencia, Spain, recently cut the ribbon, opening the doors to a new facility. As a part of U.S. Naval Activities, Spain, the newly refurbished building is ready to expand its operations to support American families stationed in Valencia.
Valencia, the third largest city in Spain, plays host to a NATO base. Primarily, a U.S. Army element operates from the base to liaison with their NATO counterparts for in-theater operations. The Navy-supported NSE is tasked with supporting those soldiers and their families. The Spanish government gave the 2,500 square foot building to the United States, and the resident officer in charge of construction in Rota renovated it before conferring it to Commander, Naval Activities Spain.
Israel Melendez, retired Navy master chief and former command master chief for Naval Station Rota and U.S. Naval Activities, Spain, now heads the NSE as its director. His 24 years living overseas while in the Navy (and fluency in Spanish) enables him to help the soldiers transferring there.
"We don't have many of the American amenities most Soldiers and Sailors enjoy, such as an exchange or commissary," Melendez said. "We at the NSE try to bridge the gap in those kinds of services by offering transition assistance to incoming personnel."
Melendez said the American presence in Valencia is small and therefore lacks many services others take for granted.
"We help find banking for new arrivals," he said. "We help enroll children in the international school here, and assist in processing vehicles and household goods."
He also said they provide television service, distance education, and other services to help establish service members in a location without the traditional military infrastructure.
Army Col. Rick Megahan, assistant chief of staff (G3) in Madrid, says the new NSE will offer one-stop shopping for all civilian and military activities.
"The NSE has a post office, housing office, computer room and learning center, and will provide TRICARE and MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) services in the near future," he said.
Megahan and Melendez both said the focus now is to get as many support services in place before Soldiers begin to arrive. Melendez expects about 23 service members initially and their families. They hope to be fully functional to achieve their number one priority, taking care of Soldiers and their families.
For related news, visit the Naval Station Rota Spain Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/rota.