By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Geoffrey Barham
Spending months at sea can be a daunting task for not only the service members but the families at home as each party loses a part of their support system. As they begin to spend more time on patrol, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force recognized the need for this kind of family support and is taking action to start its own programs based on the U.S. Navy’s Fleet and Family Support, Ombudsman and Family Readiness Group programs.
To support the endeavor they’ve reached out to Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo to provide family support symposiums for leadership and personnel at Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, and Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, two of JMSDF’s main naval bases. The symposiums were supported by CFAS Command Master Chief Stephen Bronder, CFAS Fleet and Family Support Center, Family Readiness Group, CFAS-area Ombudsmen and Aki Nichols, CFAS public affairs officer. The first was held in Sasebo March 8, 2018.
“In order for our sailors to accomplish their missions without any worry, the family support program is a good measure to create an environment where the anxiety or burden that the families have could be reduced,” said JMSDF Capt. Kan Fujiki, JMSDF Sasebo District admin officer. “JMSDF considers this family support program one of the most important responsibilities that the entire organization should work on.”
The Sasebo symposium was the first of its kind and held in an effort to not only brief the JMSDF on the various functions and roles of the Navy’s support groups, but also to give the opportunity for JMSDF members to ask questions and receive answers from family support experts.
“We are glad that they secured enough time for questions and answers,” said Fujiki. “They responded to our sailors with concrete examples. The lecture helped our participants think for themselves and foster awareness of their issues.”
This is one of the first stepping stone for the JMSDF’s new program creation. Due to differences between the U.S. Navy and the JMSDF in regards to background, history, related organizations and size, the support system still is in its early development stages.
“The JMSDF will take what they found useful from our family support programs and adapt it to best benefit their service members and their families,” said Nichols.
The Navy Fleet and Family Support Center Program is designed to support the individual and family readiness and adaptation to life in the Navy through a myriad of programs ranging from crisis intervention and response to financial education and counseling. The ombudsman program creates a direct link between the families and the commanding officer to help maintain current and accurate communication. The Family Readiness Group further support families’ adjustments to challenges presented throughout a Navy career. All three programs offer distinct advantages and can provide multiple solutions to problems presented by the absence of other support.