Letters to the Editor

WIC removal from base is unfortunate | Letter

Editor,

The on-base Women Infant Care, WIC, office provides vital pre-natal and family services for over 500 junior enlisted families. This fully federal ly funded program is located at many other bases and is virtually no cost to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

The office was started in the 1980s in order to avoid a two-hour round-trip to the Skagit office, a major cost impact to junior Navy families, or swamping the small Island County office.

Today, however, a single regional civilian, the Northwest executive director, has trumped this precedent and prior base commanding officers, by falsely proclaiming that this is a “non-federal entity” and must be kicked off the base.

State WIC officials are now scrambling to figure out how to support the Navy families.

When I discussed this issue with the state WIC officials, prior to departing my base job, they were perplexed since WIC, a federal program, is located at other Washington military bases, including Joint Base Lewis McChord — for the same reasons that the NAS Whidbey office stood-up.

Outsiders should find this issue very confusing, why would a Navy civilian impact junior Navy families? The stated mission of the region is to “support fleet, fighters and family.”

The rationale is unfortunate, but well known within NAS Whidbey circles — regional civilians have slowly wrestled complete control from base commanding officers — supervisory control of all base civilians including CO department heads, control of all funding including facility maintenance, total policy control including the cancellation of longstanding and mutually beneficial partnerships like WAIF and, now WIC.

The very beneficial PBY partnership is next on their radar screen.

Additionally, this “control” comes at a very high overhead cost.

As the principal advisor for three base COs, I unfortunately watched this transformation directly.

As retired military members, we need to stand up for our Navy families — keeping the base WIC office open has been the intent of base military leadership and is the right thing to do for both the Navy and the community.

Scott Smith

Oak Harbor

 

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