FIGT PROFESSIONAL PROFILE: RECOGNIZING THOSE WHO SERVE
OCTOBER 2004 D. MISCHELL NAVARRO, Ph.D.
Community Readiness Analyst
PSC #2 Box 6422
APO AE 09012-6422
The US Air Force flies at speeds that are still classified. While some military families in global transition may often feel they are moving just as fast, they have a thoughtfully developed relocation program to help them every step of the way. And few people working to support families on the move think as deeply about their work as Mischell Navarro, a community readiness analyst based at the Air Force's European Headquarters at Germany's Ramstein Air ForceBase.
During 14 years in the Air Force, Mischell enhanced her career and the lives of the Air Force members she serves by making a heartfelt committment to learning. Having earned a Ph.D. in Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology, Mischell says, "I firmly believe in education and assisting members of the community through education, whether on relocation/transition services or financial management and life skills."
Clearly, Mischell's work with the Air Force's Family Support Centers has many dimensions. As she points out, "Family Support Centers throughout the Air Force support military and Department of Defense personnel and their families through a myriad of preventive and educational programs and services." For families in transition this includes the Relocation Program. According to Mischell, the Relocation Program touches nearly 100 percent of transferees coming into and going out of the Air Force's European region. The key to success is accurate information, provided exactly when and where it is needed most.
As Michell Navarro says, "Relocating is difficult no matter how many times you have done it before, the age of your children, or how prepared you are. Being able to provide good quality information is worth its weight in gold and in relieving relocation stress. Our folks do a fantastic job of providing information and customer service." In the Air Force, this information flows through automated information systems, hard copy resources, and a formal Sponsorship Program, connecting members of the local community with in-bound families.
The Air Force's Sponsorship Program would be the envy of many other sectors. Sponsors often correspond with their in-bound colleagues before arrival to assist with house hunting, hotel arrangements, securing a military postal address, and many even meet new arrivals at the airport. But the support does not end there.
For over two years, the Air Force's Family Support Center has developed an about-to-be-launched customizable CD, replacing expensive-to-produce and often outdated paper sponsorship packages.
This best-practice example will improve service, lower costs, and more. As Mischell explains, "the CDs will help us stay in-tune with our target audience, who recently told us they prefer CDs to paper sponsorship packages. It is a win-win all the way around. We save money, manpower, provide updated information and help the environment with folks only printing what they need to print."
Supporting so many transferring families would challenge anyone's time-management skills. Mischell freely admits that balancing priorities is her biggest professional challenge. But getting it right can be very rewarding. As she says, "There is nothing better than seeing an idea come to life, especially if it helps folks transition from one location to another." Mischell adds that the sincere thank you emails she receives from her Air Force colleagues mean a lot, too. "It does not get much better than someone saying thank you and really meaning it."