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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy has established a hot line for family members of sailors serving as Individual Augmentees, officials said.

Currently, about 8,500 sailors are serving on the ground as augmentees in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, said Navy spokesman Lt. Trey Brown.

Now their family members can call (877) 364-4302 to find out how they can get the help they need, said Cmdr. Laura Leigh Venable.

“It’s open to any family member of any IA who feels that there is support or a resource that they don’t have access to right now, or they’re not aware of,” Venable said Tuesday.

Venable serves as executive officer at the Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center in Virginia Beach, Va., which is tasked with helping augmentees before, during and after their deployments, she said.

“It was clear to us that part of that support to the IA sailor is providing support to the family,” she said.

The hot line is primarily designed to serve as a conduit for family members to find the help they need, she said.

For example, she said, one caller had just moved when her spouse was deployed and needed to find local medical resources.

The hot line can also be of help to family members who do not live near Navy installations and need to know where to get support, and to family members who feel they are not as well connected to their loved ones’ parent command as they would like to be, Venable said.

So far, the hot line has received about 12 queries in the week and a half that it has been in operation, she said.

One caller asked why her spouse’s special pay had not kicked in, and after some research, she was told that he had not yet been deployed long enough to receive the extra money, Venable said.

The Navy does not yet have an idea of what kind of volume the hot line will receive, she said.

“We don’t yet have a feel for how large the demand is going to be but we wanted to make sure that we were here to meet that demand,” Venable said.

She said that in the near future, the Navy plans to post a list of frequently asked questions from the hot line on the Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center at: www.ecrc.navy.mil.

The Navy plans to improve the hot line, Venable said.

Right now, calls to the hot line go straight to voice mail, but the Navy plans to ultimately have operators to take family members’ calls, Venable said.

“We did not want to wait until we had a full solution to start this service,” she said.


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