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TORII STATION, Okinawa — The newly established Joint Service Family Support Network met Thursday to identify ways to improve the delivery of services and programs to servicemembers and their families on the island.

The network — an Army-funded initiative that started in June — aims to connect existing services offered through the military’s four branches, in order to share resources and develop ways to work together to better serve the people who utilize their services, said Jaimel Lee, the network’s community support coordinator. Coordinators hope the network will increase partnerships between agencies.

More than 40 representatives from base agencies attended the meeting, including Tricare, the USO, 18th Support Services, Marine Corps Community Services, USA Girl Scouts Overseas-West Pacific, and the Military & Family Life Consultant program.

Similar networks exist at Camp Zama in mainland Japan and on Guam, Lee said.

Air Force Col. Steven Kimball, commander of Army and Air Force Exchange Service for the Pacific region, said one of network’s goals is to pull in service organizations that may be underutilized or unfamiliar, and increase their visibility to other agencies and to the public.

"The whole idea of this is to increase communication on how each of us can cross lines to offer benefits and value to our customers," said Kimball, who is helping spearhead the network.

"By networking amongst ourselves we can learn how better to bring our services to the community," Kimball said.

Ideas brainstormed at Thursday’s meeting included launching a Joint Service Family Support Network Intranet site that would provide information to all the on-island community service agencies, and holding a newcomer’s bazaar that would be hosted by community service groups from all four military branches and open to all servicemembers and their families.

The Okinawa network will meet quarterly, Lee said.

Lee said she hopes the interaction among agencies also spurs more involvement in base services.

She said agencies have expressed concern that servicemembers and their families aren’t fully utilizing available resources.

Instead of attending a two-hour finance class at the Airman and Family Readiness Center, servicemembers can go online and search for financial assistance on their own time, she said.

"Our major goal is to get the families into the different programs. Instead of having 10 people attend the class, what can we do to max the class out at 100 people?" she said.

The next meeting will be held in April, Lee said.

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