In the early spring of 1966, LTC Emma Baird traveled to Europe to assist commanders in establishing ACS Centers. By 1967 the majority of CONUS installations had initiated ACS Centers. By 1969, 155 ACS Centers and points of contact were established Army wide. The largest majority of overseas centers were located in Germany, but wherever American troops served, an ACS Center or ACS point of contact was established.
From the beginnings of ACS, thousands of Army wives have enhanced and improved the lives of fellow members of their Army community. From the initiation of the ACS program, and throughout its history, the volunteers, primarily Army wives, have ensured the success and the support of the ACS program.
One Army wife who has made notable contributions to development of the ACS program was Mrs. George S. Patton (Joanne). An early advocate for assistance to military personnel with exceptional Family members, Mrs. Patton's input to the success of the Army efforts in this area has been continuous and unstinting. Appointed as ACS Volunteer Consultant to the Department of the Army in 1980, Mrs. Patton continued to bring her talent, experience, and wholehearted belief in ACS to benefit Army Families. Her abilities helped in achieving meaningful assistance meeting the needs of exceptional Family members.
The revised version of AR 608-1 on 1 October 1978, introduced new avenues of accomplishment of this viable program. Budget counseling and debt liquidation, relocation assistance, and an information program at many ACS centers, became services offered by ACS. The revised regulation incorporated the Army Child Advocacy Program (ACAP) into ACS; established the Army Child Support Services Program; established criteria for financial support, personnel functions and duties, and program requirements; and incorporated standards for child health and safety protection at military facilities offering temporary care for children.
Since the revised publication of AR 608-1 in 1978, additional programs were formed under the ACS umbrella. In 1982, the Family Advocacy Program and the Family Member Employment Assistance Program were officially established. In 1988, the Relocation Assistance Program was officially established by a Department of Defense Instruction and further mandated by Public Law in 1989. In its current structure, ACS consists of the Relocation Assistance Program, the Consumer Affairs and Financial Assistance Program, the Family Member Employment Assistance Program, the Volunteer Program, the Exceptional Family Member Program, the Family Advocacy Program, the Outreach Program, and the Information, Referral, and Follow-up Program.
On 7 October 1987 LTC (Ret) Emma Marie Baird passed away. The then U. S. Army Community and Family Support Center proposed a Memorial Award for Outstanding Volunteers be created to honor LTC Baird. This award was approved by the Secretary of the Army on 29 August 1988. Since that time the award has been presented to those volunteers who have demonstrated extraordinary dedication and sustained service to Army Community Service.
In 1995, an official mission statement was established for ACS. The mission of the ACS Center is to facilitate commander's ability to provide comprehensive, coordinated, and responsive services that support readiness of Soldiers, civilian employees, and their Families.
Today, 83 ACS Centers worldwide remain an integral part of the Army Family by supporting the Army Force Generation Model (ARFORGEN) and unit commanders by identifying quality of concerns and supports restoration of balance by improving predictable standardized services and programs across the Army. ACS supports the ARFORGEN through Family Assistance Centers, Soldier Readiness Processing, Deployment Cycle Support, Operation READY, Family Readiness Groups, Rear Detachments, Military and Family Life Consultants, and the vFRG.
The core programs and services provided by ACS Centers have grown from its early days to include: Army Family Action Plan, Army Family Team Building, Army OneSource, Army Volunteer Corps, Exceptional Family Member, Family Advocacy, Financial Readiness, Information and Referral, Relocation Readiness, Sexual Assault and Response Program, Soldier and Family Assistance Center, Spouse Employment, Survivor Outreach Services, Transitional Compensation, and Victim Advocacy. ACS continues to grow and evolve to meet the changing needs of the global Army Family.
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