The most underutilized services that active duty Air Force members have are the programs that the Force Support Squadron (FSS) offers. Every base has a FSS, and most bases have similar programs run by their FSS. Some of the best programs the FSS offers are Airmen and Family Readiness Center, the Auto Hobby Shop, Outdoor Recreation, Information, Tickets and Travel, and the Golf Courses. Each of these offer a great service to the active duty member and are usually very reasonably priced.
Airmen and Family Readiness Center
The Airmen and Family Readiness Center (AFRC) offers many different programs to help Airmen and their families. Services offered are deployment preparation, family counseling, child education, Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), the Key Spouse Program, spouse education and career opportunities, financial counseling and several other benefits. All of these benefits are provided at no cost and can typically be used by the military member and/or their family. The AFRC is a great resource that members typically forget is available to them. Upon arriving at a new base, military members are required to attend a Newcomers Orientation. During this orientation, each AFRC will give a presentation on all the services they offer. Pay attention to these services because you never know when you or your family may need to tap into these resources.
Auto Hobby Shop
The Auto Hobby Shop is a program offered to military members and their family. At the Auto Hobby Shop, all the tools and lifts are available for a member to perform their own maintenance on their vehicle. Every Auto Hobby Shop has certified auto mechanics who work there and are happy to lend their advice and assistance if needed. Most base Auto Hobby Shops also offer self-serve car washing and free oil changes for spouses of deployed military members. Just bring in a copy of deployment orders and the certified technician will schedule to do a free oil change. Most bases have an FSS website with the Auto Hobby Shop’s location, hours and special programs they offer.
Outdoor Recreation is another fantastic program run by the FSS. Outdoor Recreation typically offers a laundry list of items you can rent for a day, weekend, or week. Most of these items are camping, biking, fishing, and party related. They offer items as small as a camping chair all the way to recreational vehicles and motorized boats. If you want to go camping with the family but don’t want to buy all the gear, Outdoor Recreation is the perfect place to rent the equipment and save you the money from buying it. Outdoor Recreation usually also offers several different trips a month. The types of trips vary with time of year and location, but some examples are skiing and hiking trips. These trips are usually day or weekend trips and are offered at a reduced price. These can be a great way to discover a new adventure near you.
Information, Tickets, and Travel
The next service provided is the Information, Tickets, and Travel (ITT). Information, Tickets, and Travel primarily offer discounted tickets at popular travel destinations. One example is that Information, Tickets, and Travel offers discounted tickets to Walt Disney World Theme Parks. You can purchase the discounted tickets at your local base and have them ready once you arrive at Disney. They also offer discounts at resorts, cruises, vacations, sporting events, and lift tickets. Some of these discounts are offered at the actual location as well, but Information, Tickets, and Travel can help save time by not needing to wait in line for these tickets. Most tickets can be validated at ITT. Military members also usually save on sales tax when buying from ITT since you are purchasing these tickets on base.
The base golf course is the last program that will be discussed. Most Air Force bases have their own golf course. For the avid golfer, this can be a great benefit. All bases that offer Golf Courses have reasonable green fees. Want to spend some time out on the greens on your next vacation? Consider using an Air Force Golf Course if you are a military member. The FSS is responsible for the golf course and any associated food services. The Shades of Green is a military only resort located on Disney World property, and they offer a special rate on golfing at one of the three world renowned Disney golf courses.
No matter what base you are stationed at, the Force Support Squadron offers numerous services to military members and their families. These services are meant to be used and are better than most services you would find outside of the military. The best way to enjoy them are to take advantage of as many of these services as you can. In a world where the government is constantly looking for ways to cut spending, these services will disappear if they do not get used. Take advantage of them and share some news adventures with your family.
Dave Blankenstein served in the US Air Force for 12 years as a C-17 pilot. He was stationed at MacDill AFB, FL, Vance AFB, OK, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, Joint Base Charleston, SC and Altus AFB, OK. Dave attended undergraduate pilot training at Vance, then went to C-17 initial training and ultimately spent the reminder of his time in the military as a C-17 pilot. His military career culminated as a C-17 evaluator at the only C-17 formal training unit in the world. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering and a master’s degree in Aeronautical Science with a concentration in Aviation Safety Science.
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