FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — The U.S. Army often looks to Fort Drum for its readiness capabilities.

This requires units of soldiers to deploy sometimes on a day’s notice and leaves their families behind. But Fort Drum’s new Soldier and Family Readiness Division has helped provide resources to support local soldiers.

The Division is the outcome of major changes that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic and merged all Fort Drum community services and substance abuse programs.

According to Division Chief Lorilyn Starr, prior to the merger, these programs were scattered in five different locations across the Army installation. The Division now houses all programs in only two buildings.

“One of the main reasons we wanted to bring the programs together, is to make it easier for our soldiers and families to access these services,” Starr explained. “If you need something we don’t want to send you to four or five different places across post.”

Despite being less than three years old, the Division just earned Department of Defense certification, which is a competitive process.

“They had to update everything because of the merger,” Starr shared. “Our operating procedures, our trainings, the resources that we offer, it was a lot of work on their part. I’m super proud. It was truly a team effort to make sure this happened.”

Now, the Division has countless resources available. This includes peer support groups for stress management and communication, social groups and activities, employment opportunities and children’s clubs.

Starr emphasized that a top priority of the Soldier and Family Readiness Division is to provide resources for all needs. Because, she said, to ensure soldier readiness ahead of deployments, training rotations or assignments, families must also be supported.

“As a past military spouse myself, part of my soldier being ready, is his comfort in that the family is ready,” Starr said. “A lot of the stuff that we looked at is, are we providing the current up-to-date family support resources to take care of families and them build their resilience, help them manage their stress and help them feel ready for anything that comes down the path for their soldier.”

The Fort Drum Soldier and Readiness Division is located at 11042 Mt. Belvedere Boulevard on the Fort Drum military installation.