One Source to many problems

21 Feb 2003 | Sgt. G. S. Thomas

There are many places for Marines and their family members to seek relocation assistance, information on education benefits, financial advice or relationship counseling - that is if they are stationed on a Marine Corps installation.

But not everyone has that kind of direct access to the help network in place. That is where the Marine Corps Community Services' new program - MCCS One Source - comes in. It also provides all eligible patrons, regardless of duty station, access to helpful information 24 hours a day.

Active duty or Selected Marine Corps Reserve Marines, sailors attached to Marine units, and family members, who impact those service members' mission focus, are all eligible to access the program via telephone and Internet.

The program offers counseling on numerous subjects, including relationships, education, health and wellness, childcare, parenting, care for the elderly, legal advice and financial management.

From within the continental United States, patrons may call (800) 433-6868 to access the services. Callers who use teletypewriters or telecommunications devices for the deaf may use (800) 346-9188, and those needing the service in Spanish may call (888) 346-9188. Translation into more than 140 languages assures language will not be a barrier to callers receiving assistance.

In addition to the toll-free phone numbers, a great deal of information is available on the Web site, Some of the site's features include financial calculators; locators for childcare, elderly care, summer camp, and health and wellness; self-assessment quizzes; bulletin boards; and feature articles. Patrons can also e-mail a consultant if they need more help. Generally, a representative answers e-mails within 24 hours.

The program makes its confidentiality limitations known to callers who access one of the toll-free numbers. Marine Corps Community Services One Source is obligated to report certain information to the Marine Corps and/or civilian agencies. Issues concerning the caller's safety, the safety of others, illegal practices and domestic abuse are all examples of reportable information.

Despite the limitations in confidentiality, the program is making great strides to ensure patrons receive the help they need. Approximately one week after a person accesses the system, a representative follows up either by e-mail or phone. If the patron is not satisfied, his or her situation will be reassessed and another solution provided.

According to the Web site, the program will provide "... the comprehensive source to help you face life's everyday challenges."

"This is a pre-paid service and is offered at absolutely no cost to the user," said Steve Blare, director of MCCS's Command and Transition Support Division here. "MCCS One Source offers advice, support, solutions and online resources pertaining to real-life situations. This includes brochures, information sheets, CDs and cassettes on a wide variety of topics -- also mailed to the user at no charge.  I've actually toured the distribution center where these items are stored ... and the list of topics is remarkable."