WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Commander, Navy Installations Command’s (CNIC) Fleet and Family Support Program (FFSP) celebrated 40 years of service to Sailors and their families at a ceremony held at CNIC headquarters on the Washington Navy Yard, July 16, 2019.
Personnel from CNIC Headquarters and Naval District Washington, along with numerous special guests and some members from the original Navy Family Service Center came together to mark the day.
Guest speaker Dr. Ann O’Keefe started with the Navy in October 1978.
She was the Navy's first Family Service Center (FSC) director when the FSC opened its doors in Norfolk, Va., in 1979, after the idea for a service center grew out of the Family Awareness Conference held in Norfolk in November 1978.
Today, O’Keefe took a moment to reflect from her time as director to the current state of the Family Readiness Program.
“From my perspective as the first director of the Navy Family Support Program, I can say whole-heartedly that you are all doing a great job,” said O’Keefe. “You have adjusted the program over the years as new challenges emerged. You have kept the program seaworthy.
Although the program has grown to be a major support to Navy families, it has not always been the case.
Taken from a Navy News article in 2009, O’Keefe stated, a big misconception the early staff dealt with was that the program would try to retain people who did not belong in the Navy.
“We worked to keep good Sailors by acknowledging their strength,” she said. “We set out from the beginning to provide proactive and educational programs that kept Sailors and families healthy and strong.”
A Navy captain, a chaplain, seven active duty personnel, 10 civilian employees, and a local ombudsman chairperson staffed the first FSC. The center also worked closely with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, American Red Cross, Navy Wives Organizations, and commands.
Over the next decade, other areas of support programs were added. The staff transformed to a diverse mix of full-time civilian service (GS), non-appropriated funds (NAF) and contract employees. However, getting through the years the program did have to overcome some “rough terrain”.
O'Keefe recalled another difficulty in standing up the program. “People thought it (FSC) would be just another flash in the pan,” said O’Keefe. “They said, ‘why should I get involved? It will just go away.’”
The program persevered.
In 2001, the name changed from Navy Family Service Center to Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) to emphasize that the center was to support the Sailor and the family. In 2002, the FFSC's incorporated a new lighthouse logo and theme line: “Meeting Your Needs, At Home, At Sea.” The new logo was designed to give the centers a uniform identity at naval bases around the globe. The lighthouse logo still beacons the doors of centers worldwide.
Today, the Fleet and Family Support Program continues to deliver the best services at the right time in the right place.
The current FFSP director Shauna Turner agrees, “I feel great pride and humility that our centers serving our Navy families today are the finest professionals to help strengthen the resiliency of our Sailors and their families and the lethality of our Navy.”
For more information of the Navy’s Fleet and Family Support Program visit: https://www.cnic.navy.mil/ffsp
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