The Foreign Service Journal, March 2009

F O C U S O N G O I N G I T A L O N E S UPPORT FOR U NACCOMPANIED A SSIGNMENTS 20 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / M A R C H 2 0 0 9 he face of the Foreign Service has changed profoundly since the 9/11 attacks: Most cur- rent members can expect at least one unaccompanied as- signment during their career, generally lasting a year or longer. In 2001, the number of unaccompanied, or par- tially accompanied, Foreign Service positions was about 200; now there are over 900. While most of these jobs are at posts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, there are 12 other posts designated as partially accompanied: either adult El- igible Family Members (over 21) only or adult EFMs and children under 5 (see p. 26). The State Department is constantly looking for the best way to support unaccompanied posts’ missions, their em- ployees, and family members affected by the separation. In particular, we strive to establish effective support struc- tures, not only at these posts but also for each employee’s onward assignment, whether to another overseas post or a domestic office. We also try to make adequate resources available to their family members, who not only feel dis- connected from their loved ones, but who could also ben- efit by a community of others in a similar situation. Many of these programs stemmed from collaborative efforts among various offices within the department, in- cluding the Family Liaison Office, and overseas posts. Both as an organization and as a community, we all have to work together to continue to adapt to the changing For- eign Service. Meet FLO The Family Liaison Office was founded in 1978 to pro- vide advocacy, programs and services for direct-hire U.S. government employees and family members who are serv- ing, have served or will be serving under chief-of-mission authority. In the context of providing FLO’s services to families of employees serving in unaccompanied tours, in particular, we define the term “family members” very lib- erally to include spouses, partners, members of household, parents, tandems, siblings, fiancés, adult children, and any- one else who is important to the employee. If they are im- portant to you, they are important to us. There are two positions in FLO solely devoted to sup- porting employees and their family members before, dur- ing and after a UT. The Unaccompanied Tours Support Officer position was established in 2005, and a program A DETAILED LOOK AT JUST WHAT THE S TATE D EPARTMENT CAN DO TO HELP . B Y B RIDGET R ODDY T Bridget Roddy is the Unaccompanied Tours Support Offi- cer in the State Department’s Family Liaison Office. The daughter of a Foreign Service officer, she has lived in Abid- jan, Vienna, the Hague, Taipei and Ottawa. She was on the “family” side of two unaccompanied tours while her fi- ancé served in Doha and Baghdad.