Story by Staff Sgt. Toshiko Gregg
81st Regional Support Command
BREVARD, N.C. – Imagine yourself being a homeless veteran, an unemployed reserve Soldier or a spouse left home to take care of three kids without any kind of support system or guidance on what benefits and resources are available. The nearest military base is over 200 miles away from your home and you have no earthly idea as to who can help with all your questions and concerns.
This is one of the reasons the Army Strong Community Center was created: To connect those service members, retirees, veterans and their families from all branches of military service with someone who can support them with the tools needed to make their lives more comfortable, meet their families’ needs, and make them successful at reaching their goals.
Customer Support Coordinators Susan Bennett and David Carr are the backbone of the Brevard ASCC. They are very hands-on with the surrounding communities and service members but they also assist those who are over the 50-mile radius of the community center.
“General Stultz and his wife were very passionate about people who are geographically dispersed,” said Bennett. “They are our number one priority.” One of ASCC’s focuses is to go out and build relationships within the local community. Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz was the former Chief, Army Reserve and Commanding General, United States Army Reserve Command.
Carr holds three positions in the Brevard community. He’s the President of the Community Relations Counsel of Schenck Job Corps, the Chaplain for The American Legion and Human Relations Counsel which it part of the Transylvania County/Brevard City Counsel. “Each position allows open access to community members, which has in the past led to touches/contacts with military members,” said Carr. “It must be remembered that outside of reservists, ASCC Brevard must build its own data base for veterans, retirees, and their family members. Any contact with the general public in whatever capacity facilitates learning who and where our veterans are located.”
From the mayor of Brevard’s point of view, it is great to look up and see a representative from the ASCC at a city council meeting or festival as it shows they are involved in the community. “Once individuals know that they have that resource it’s a great feeling. Not only does that provide a great image for the military I also think it’s a great recruiting piece,” said Mayor Jimmy Harris. “I believe all ASCC’s need to be recognized, they just don’t need to occupy a building and not be seen, it’s clear that we have a good model here in Brevard, Transylvania County and I think it reaps benefits.”
What is unique about the Brevard ASCC is that it has four military installations around them that they support based out of Asheville, N.C. The 357th Engineer Company, 382nd Medical Company, 1-518th Infantry Regiment and in Brevard the 678th Human Resource Company. The ASCC briefs to all units including information on benefits and entitlements, education and employment assistance as well as referrals to additional agencies that can provide assistance from helping agencies.
The ASCC has helped soldiers in some cases find housing in lieu of eviction and funding for hardships to assist with other family emergencies that have caused them hardship. ASCC can assist Soldiers with tuition assistance and the GI bill, disability through the VA, and they have also pointed soldiers toward the right direction to find a job.
Explained Unit Administrator Matthew Underwood with the 678th HR “They are such a good resource to use and they take some of the workload off of the UA’s so that the UA can concentrate more on the Medical Readiness of their soldiers,” said Underwood. “When one of those unique issues arises a UA can just refer their Soldier to the ASCC.”