Thursday, April 21, 2011

Walter Reed services prepare for closures

Nonappropriated Fund employees face separation

Photo by Bernard S. Little
Walter Reed’s Auto Skills Center on the main post, is slated to close April 30, as is the Arts and Crafts Center at Forest Glen.
As the Sept. 15, 2011 deadline for complete implementation of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law draws closer, the U.S. Army Garrison-Walter Reed, Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) departments are beginning the process of closing programs and services offered by Walter Reed.

Last month, Maj. Gen. Carla Hawley-Bowland, commanding general, Northern Regional Medical Command and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Col. Peter T. McHugh, USAG-WR commander and Craig P. Miller, Walter Reed’s director of FMWR, finalized and approved the closing of various programs offered through FMWR over the next few months.

‘‘Four-and-a-half years of planning is finally being put into action, though it’s sad at times,” Miller said. ‘‘It’s the reality of change.”

Miller has been working with his counterparts throughout the northeast area, and specifically, the National Capital Region, to ensure a continuity and overlap of programs and services for servicemembers, their beneficiaries and staff, along with trying to repurpose equipment.

The closure is only part of the transition. Miller and his departments established a timeline for the reasonable and orderly process that the government can account for its property, people and resources that are in these various facilities.

Another part in the transition process is getting equipment turned over to some of the installations in the region that have shown interest [Fort Detrick and Fort Meade, Md., and Fort Myer, Va.].

‘‘Almost everything that we own in this is Nonappropriated Fund (NAF) equipment, so it’s not the tax payer’s, it’s the Soldier’s, so what we want to do is make it available to other installations to use. Therefore, we are saving them a great deal of investment money,” said Miller.

According to Miller, the decision and times of these closures are driven by remaining population on the Walter Reed campus and funding.

The upcoming closures dates and programs include:

  • The Arts and Crafts Center at Forest Glen in Silver Spring, Md., and the Auto Skills Center on the main installation are scheduled to close April 30.

  • June 30, the Patient and Post Library, Fitness Center (Bldg. 88) and MWR Conference Center in Delano Hall (Bldg. 11) will close. Some equipment from the fitness center will be transferred to the Wagner Sports Center and remain there until its closure in September

  • Aug. 31, the Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program and ITR (Travel and Tickets) office will stop operations.

  • Sept. 1, Army Community Service (ACS) and Wally’s Snack Bar in Delano Hall close. A portion of ACS will move to the Fort Glen annex and support the active Army elements at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

  • Sept. 15, the Wagner Sports Center and lodging at WRAMC, including the Mologne House, the two Fisher Houses on the Walter Reed post, along with Delano and Doss halls, ends. The Fisher House at the Forest Glen will remain in operation.

    In an effort to ensure that FMWR patrons know where they can go to get these services in the Military District of Washington, they will be placed on ‘‘BRAC Boards” in FMWR facilities throughout the WRAMC campus. These boards will be updated on a weekly basis.

    ‘‘We are able to facilitate, our population into other programs [on other installations], so if you to find an Arts and Crafts facility, this can tell you who’s got them, where they are located, what their hours of operations are...we want to provide that information,” said Miller.

    Another part of closure is separation through a Business Based Action (BBA) of NAF employees.

    ‘‘We have to notify them [NAF employees] 60 days ahead of time for their last day, by law,” said Miller.

    The policy calls for a minimum of 60 calendar days advance notice for regular full-time and part-time NAF staff, and seven calendar days for flex NAF employees.

    The BBA notice to NAF employees will describe the BBA and the reason for the action (‘‘functions will cease to exist”). The notice will tell employees about their benefits and entitlements, including severance pay and loss of benefits, if applicable. The notice will also provide employees information on unemployment compensation and placement assistance through the Reemployment Priority List (RPL).

    For more information regarding closures, contact Craig Miller at (202) 782-4946 and⁄or Harryette Irving at (202) 782-7037.

    The Department of Employment Services (DOES) will continue to provide certification-oriented skills training in high-demand occupations to BRAC-impacted employees in the D.C. area. Beginning May 1, DOES will deliver BRAC Career Transition Center services at its new headquarters at 4058 Minnesota Ave., N.E., in D.C. The center is on the third floor of the building, located adjacent to the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station on the Orange Line. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. The telephone number is (202) 698-5859.

    A dislocated worker is any current employee working at WRAMC or military spouse who has not received nor expects to receive an offer of continued employment.