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(Enlarge) Col. Edward C. Rothstein, Garrison Commander

There's a saying in the military: "The strength of a service member comes from the strength of their families."

This week, one of the Army's most valuable family programs committed to supporting service members and their families, Army Community Service, celebrated its 47th birthday.

Since 1965, ACS has assisted commanders in maintaining the readiness of individuals, families and communities within the Army by developing, coordinating and delivering services that promote self-reliance, resiliency and stability during war and peace.

ACS is part of the family of programs provided by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. ACS is designed to provide real-life solutions for Soldiers and their families.

We often think about ACS when we relocate from one military installation to another or when we prepare for a deployment.

ACS also provides an array of other services such as information about military and civilian agencies in our region, financial planning and emergency financial assistance, information about employment opportunities, Exceptional Family Member Programs, education planning and Family Advocacy Programs, which include stress and anger management classes and relationship-enrichment workshops.

What you may not know is that ACS offers its services to all members of the military, regardless of branch of service.

So whether you're a single service member or a Soldier with family, ACS has programs designed to help you face the challenges of military life today and tomorrow.

As we celebrate ACS this week, please remember that ACS is always looking for members of the Fort Meade community to serve as volunteers who are willing to use their skills and talents to enhance ACS programs. For more information about ACS, call 301-677-5590.

As we close out the month of July, there are a couple DFMWR activities going on this weekend that you should consider supporting.

On Friday, Club Meade will host its Country-Top 40 Night from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The event is a great way to celebrate summer, make new friends and dance the night away.

The Lanes will sponsor a free Deck Party on Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. There will be games, prizes and music. A special food menu will be available for purchase.

On Saturday, Missoula Children's Theatre will present a performance featuring youths in grades one to 12 at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at McGill Training Center. The organization is the largest touring children's theater program in the country.

The youth performance is produced in collaboration with Fort Meade's School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration & Skills Unlimited program.

My safety alert this week supports the American Cancer Society's campaign for sun safety and promotes ways you can protect yourself and your family while outdoors. Most skin cancers are preventable if you follow a few simple steps to shield your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

According to the American Cancer Society, sun safety can be as easy as remembering the catch phrase: "Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap!"

* Slip on a shirt, preferably a dark-colored shirt with tightly woven fabric and long sleeves.

* Slop on sunscreen with a sun protector factor (SPF) of 30 or more.

* Slap on a wide-brimmed hat.

* Wrap on sunglasses and protect your eyes from the sun.

* Stay in the shade, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

You should also be mindful of the correct way to apply sunscreen. For the best effect, apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before stepping outside. A palm-sized amount of sunscreen should be enough to cover an average adult's arms, legs, neck and face.

For best results, most sunscreens need to be reapplied every two hours and after swimming, sweating heavily or toweling off.

It's also important to read the label before you buy sunscreens. Many groups, including the American Academy of Dermatology, recommend products with an SPF of at least 30. The SPF number represents the level of protection against UV rays provided by the sunscreen. A higher number means more protection.

Remember, protecting yourself and the ones you love from the sun reduces the chance of skin cancer.

Let's continue to make good decisions this summer. Stay focused on safety.

Team Meade!

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