Eglin collaborates to bring family care to Crestview

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EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The 96th Test Wing is collaborating with community leaders on a proposal to build a military family care complex in Crestview, Florida.

The proposed complex plan will bring a medical clinic, child development center, and military helping agencies to servicemembers and families who reside in the area.

“Supporting our Team Eglin service members and the families who provide the strong foundation for our force is critical to recruitment, retention, and readiness,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Geraghty, 96th TW commander. “Our military community expands beyond the gates – it makes sense to expand our support services as well.”

Plans for the medical clinic include an outpatient facility to service active-duty members, their dependents and veterans. The child development center will ensure access to childcare services for military families beyond the north end of the Eglin Test and Training Complex, bridging a more than 20-mile gap in such services to the area.

Crestview has grown approximately 35% since 2010. Much of its growth is attributed to the military mission, as the city provides housing opportunities for service members and their families. When complete, the CDC will not only provide more childcare options in the city for military families, but also help minimize traffic and improve the quality of life by serving families where they live, said Tim Bolduc, Crestview city manager.

The ETTC is home to units from every branch of military service to include more than a dozen wing- equivalent organizations. As Eglin's host wing, the 96th TW supports more than 19,000 military, civilian, and contractor personnel and 43,000 dependents located across the Florida panhandle.

“We are very grateful for our relationship with Eglin and love and support  military and the mission of our local bases,” said Bolduc. “Crestview stands ready to help with this project in any way we can.”

The wing is also exploring options to base helping agency services such as Military and Family Life Counseling, a Military Family Readiness Council, School Liaison Office, and an Exceptional Family Member Program within the complex.  

“One of my priorities is to focus on ways to take even better care of Team Eglin service members and their families – and we’re taking services to them to make that happen,” said Geraghty. “We will continue to listen and lead on issues that are critical to stability and to the unique challenges of military life.”

The military family care complex is one of many solutions Eglin leadership is pursuing to ease child and health care burdens many military families are faced with.

The wing is making a substantial investment in renovations, repair, and maintenance of existing facilities to increase childcare capacity on the installation, said Geraghty.

Efforts also include hiring additional CDC caregivers to open more classrooms on Eglin main, making subsidies more readily available for families who use off-base childcare facilities in Crestview and other local communities, and expanding in-home family childcare services.

The wing is also tracking a commercial childcare provider working to increase childcare capacity in the communities surrounding the installation. The provider is preparing to break ground on a childcare facility in Crestview and one in Navarre to meet the growing requirements to support military families from all services. The Crestview facility is on schedule to open in the Fall of 2023.

“We’re fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most supportive communities I’ve seen – everywhere I go, I’m asked the same question, ‘How can we help?’” said Geraghty. “Initiatives like the military family care complex are a testament to those relationships.”

"As a military retiree myself, I’m overjoyed to see this great partnership between our city and Eglin that will result in greater services to our military members, dependents, and veterans who live in the Crestview area,” said Crestview Mayor J.B. Whitten.