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Monday, May 02, 2016

In the very near future, soldiers will handle much of their personal financial transactions on their own, remotely, virtually, without ever getting near a unit finance office on post.

"We’ll expect soldiers to take care of their financial business on a self-help basis," said Anthony J. Stamilio, who just stepped down as deputy assistant secretary of the Army for military personnel and quality of life.

His comments came at a recent Hot Topic forum on Army Installation Management sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare.

That is just one way rapid shifts in family dynamics, budget resources and modern communications technology are combining to drive significant changes in the way the Army builds and provides family support programs, officials said.

"Clearly, there is a greater need for customization, integration and options," Stamilio said.

Adding, "One size is never going to fit all anymore. Perhaps the most critical need is … how we communicate with the soldier and his or her family where they are, and how they consume communication. Delivering programs and services the way we’ve always done it will virtually be irrelevant. We’ve got to change."

To support greater self-service in the personal finance arena, the Army plans to deliver enhanced financial readiness training at every "life event" in a soldier’s career – marriage, childbirth, re-enlistment and others, said Carla K. Coulson, director of installation services in the office of the Army assistant chief of staff for installation management.

This training will begin in fiscal year 2017.

Other support programs are also undergoing changes. One initiative will expand operating hours of some Army Child Development Centers to 14 hours.

A study is due to wrap up Oct. 1 that will tell officials where the need is greatest, she said.

More broadly, the Army is moving to give installations greater flexibility in how they fund their respective family support programs.

"We understand that a family program at one installation may look differently than it does at another," Coulson said. "We have garrison commanders out there now using this flexibility, and using it effectively. They like it."

This Hot Topic forum was sponsored by Corvias Military Living, an AUSA sustaining member.