Wright-Patt civilians learn about benefits at information fair

Sara Bateman, Wright-Patterson Exchange services business manager, shows a brochure to Shannon Carroll, Air Force Research Laboratory information management lead, during the ‘ThanksCIVing’ Information Fair, hosted by the Affirmative Employment Program, inside the USO Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Nov. 21. Many information booths were set-up to share information about services and benefits available to Air Force civilian employees. (U.S. Air Force photos/Michelle Gigante)

Nearly 400 civilian employees came out to the first “ThanksCIVing” Information Fair Nov. 21 at the USO Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Put on by the Affirmative Employment Program, the fair gave civilians an opportunity to come to one central location and learn about benefits and services available to them as employees of Wright-Patterson AFB.

“It was a wonderful to see such a positive turn out,” said Vera McClain, Affirmative Employment Special Emphasis program manager. “Many people left saying, “I didn’t know I could do that … get that … here on base!”

McClain added that more than 15 service agencies were in attendance at the fair. Many stated it was nice to connect with the employees and that the fair was a needed event as many were unaware of the services on base.

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Tavonne Bridges, Exceptional Family Member Program coordinator, was at the fair representing the 88th Force Support Squadron’s Airmen and Family Readiness Center.

“From educational classes to financial management to resume building, civilians are eligible to utilize many of the resources the AFRC has to offer,” said Bridges.

Bridges added that along with services available to the civilian workforce at Wright-Patterson, key spouses are also eligible for some of the AFRC services.

Another benefit that many civilians may had not been aware of is the use of many of the Army and Air Force Exchange Services.

Although AAFES primary customers are the active-duty and retiree population, civilians are allowed to utilize the food facilities located throughout the base. Those are the Base Exchange food court, Starbucks, Jus Juic’N, Coffee Café, Einstein Bagels and Subway. In addition, with the exception of tobacco and alcohol, retail items can also be purchased at the Express gas stations.

“Not only just food options but there are so many other AAFES services civilians can use,” said Sara Bateman, Wright-Patt Exchange Services business manager. “Civilians are also authorized to use the Precision Tune car repair and maintenance shop, Vista Optical, barber shop, GNC, Military Flags Gifts and More, H&R Block, Wireless Advocates, laundry dry cleaners and even the base theater to catch a movie.”

Bateman added that civilians may also shop and purchase items from any AAFES retail and short-term vendors located inside buildings on the installation, including the mall area between the BX and Commissary.

Shannon Carroll, Air Force Research Laboratory information management team lead, said although she is an Air Force retiree and was aware of many of the services, she was still surprised to learn about all the services that were also offered to civilians.

“Events such as this makes us (civilians) feel we are one team here at Wright-Patt,” said Carroll. “I highly encourage more events of this nature and hope it is offered again.”

McClain said for a first time event, the response was tremendous and plans to make “ThanksCIVing” an annual event.

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