Military OneSource works overseas

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Imagine you're assigned to Osan with your spouse and child in the States. One day you get a call from your spouse; your child's teacher recommends your child be seen by a mental health professional for a learning disability. Your spouse has no idea how to get this done or if your insurance will cover it. What do you do?

One of the best courses of action is to contact the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, but chances are, they will recommend you contact Military OneSource, the 24/7-365 resource for servicemembers, regardless of where you are in the world.

OneSource, as it's commonly known, is the result of a Department of Defense initiative following Sept. 11. With many military members deployed from their families, the DOD realized there was a need for a simple to use, easy access way to get help to family members left behind so the servicemember could concentrate on the mission.

The topics OneSource can help with are virtually unlimited. As their motto "you name it, we can help--24/7" suggests, they can directly respond to you or put you in contact with someone who can, for just about anything. They handle things from simply locating a garage to fix your car to helping you arrange care for elderly family members.

One little-known OneSource service that is very useful to those assigned overseas is translation. For example, they can provide translators to help you figure out bills in your local country. They can translate official documents for you and they can even facilitate three-way phone calls between servicemembers and a third party, such as a non-English speaking family member.

Perhaps the best aspect of Military OneSource is that it's completely free. DOD provides the service through a contract with Ceridian Corp., LifeWorks Services in Minneapolis, Minn. The company provides the staff and resources to help servicemembers and their families.

"The fact that the service is free is a tremendous benefit to us and the military we help," said Ms. Tamre Newton of Osan's Airmen and Family Readiness Center. "With budget cuts and funding issues, any 'free' resources we can obtain we do. In particular, we utilize their materials regarding financial education, the Thrift Savings Plan and identity theft. These resources have been an enormous benefit to our Osan community."

By calling the overseas 800 number (800-3429-6477) or e-mailing a question to the Web site at www.militaryonesource.com, any servicemember or family member can get help on a world of topics. Family members and other military stateside can call 1-(800)-342-9647.

OneSource is staffed with master's level consultants who directly offer assistance or can tap into a network of specialists on virtually any topic. It is an augmentation to, not a replacement of, the installation family centers.

Before Military OneSource, each of the services had their own OneSource type programs that offered many of the same services, but only Military OneSource offers services regardless of branch of service or service status, thus it is also available to Guardsmen and Reservists (regardless of activation status) and their families. Each of the military services fully implemented DOD's service in 2004.

Use of the OneSource program is increasing but there is still a need to remind servicemembers and family members of the resource. Asecond-quarter report on OneSource use in PACAF showed that participants contacted the program more than 50 percent of the time for emotional well-being issues, followed by help with personal and family readiness, and parenting and child care assistance.

In the real world story at the beginning of this article, the spouse called OneSource who put them in contact with several health care providers in the area that accepted TRICARE, thus alleviating both problems. If you are a service or family member, give OneSource a call, and see what they can help you with.