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Joyce Wessel Raezer, director of government relations, National Military Family Association, addresses an audience at the Base Theater Jan. 18th. Raezer toured the base to look at the quality of life and to do a follow up on the privatization of base housing.

Photo by Cpl. Rose A. Muth

Senate issues brought to Lejeune for discussion

19 Jan 2006 | Cpl. Rose A. Muth

Defense laws, basic allowance for housing increases and changes in TRICARE services available for families are just items on a laundry list of things for the National Military Family Association to help improve the quality of life for service members and their families.

Joyce Wessel Raezer, director of government relations, NMFA, visited Camp Lejeune, Jan. 18 and 19, to gain an idea of the quality of life aboard the installation and to spread the word about programs and services currently being lobbied by NMFA on Capitol Hill, and increase awareness regarding programs already in effect.

“This was my first visit aboard the base and I was very impressed by the programs and the people running them,” Raezer said. “There are good things happening for families here and I hope they will consider using the programs readily available to them.”

The first stop on Raezer’s base tour was “Maxwell Hall,” the Wounded Warrior Barracks, to visit the facilities and to meet some Marines  living there who are recovering from injuries sustained during deployment.

“The rooms here at the barracks have been modified to help accommodate some of the special needs that a Marine might have which would help aid in their recovery,” Gunnery Sgt. Ken Barnes, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of support section, explained. “We have enough space for Marines to have their own rooms to help them transition into being back from deployment and to make them feel at home.”

After the barracks tour, Raezer was escorted to the Tarawa Terrace I Housing Unit to view an old housing unit and then to see the progress of the public private venture housing newly built in Tarawa Terrace II.

“We have been following the privatization of base housing since the beginning of the project and we have learned what works and what doesn’t after looking at other bases,” Raezer said. “The old housing looks like what I used to live in when my husband was in the Army, but the new housing is amazing. I’m very pleased with the way it is turning out.”

Before the first day of touring the base was over, Raezer toured the Marine Corps Community Services facilities to see what programs and services are readily available to help improve quality of life aboard the base.

“The facilities offered at the (Child Development Center) and the Family Services Center are absolutely great. The workshops offered to help children before and after their mom or dad deploys is a good idea and I hope families are coming to the classes offered,” Raezer said.

On day two of her visit, Raezer spoke to service members and their spouses at the Base Theatre about the NMFA’s mission and plans future plans for quality of life aboard military installations.

“There are a lot of people in Washington who care about you and what happens to you. When they don’t know how to get to you they come to us and we come back to you guys and ask for your input,” Raezer said. “We are a volunteer led and volunteer focused group and we are not government funded. We run through the military spouses’ clubs, individual and corporation donations and the Combined Federal Campaign.”

During Raezer’s brief, she discussed topics such as the newly revised defense laws passed every year, military pay and compensation, education and TRICARE.

“There are three defense laws in effect and they are in place to help handle different things such as the budget and what the Department of Defense may do or must do,” Raezer said. “Military pay is always a big topic since the big concern in the Senate is sustaining pay to equal up to what is asked of servicemembers. The NMFA has gotten 7 bids to stand in front of the Senate and to discuss these matters for the servicemembers and their families.”

At the end of the brief, Raezer answered audience questions on spouse employment and state and local support on different subjects and thanked everyone in the audience for attending.

“There are so many good services out there for service members and their families to use,” Raezer explained. “I look forward to coming back to see all the places I haven’t seen or missed and to working with everyone I met these past couple days again.”