JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
Nicole “Nikki” Tavel is a community readiness consultant at the Military & Family Readiness Center who has spent the last 10 years supporting service members to improve their quality of life and enrich their careers.
As an adolescent, she took an interest in psychology, which inspired her to earn a bachelor’s degree in the field from Bemidji State University.
She leveraged her education to help service members, initially becoming a yellow ribbon specialist, which entailed providing resources to reserve citizen Airmen similar to resources available at the M&FRC. She continued to gain experience as an assistant Airman and Family Readiness Program manager and as a community readiness specialist, making her uniquely qualified to become the community readiness consultant she is today.
Although Tavel did not pursue a career in psychology, she still utilizes her education and passion to provide better service to individuals.
"Psychology really does play into the role that we do because everybody comes in with a different story and you are helping them work through those different programs to make sure that they are getting what they need,” said Tavel. “It does really correlate with what I went to school for and what I'm passionate about.”
Tavel takes pride in utilizing the arsenal of resources at her disposal to work through each specific situation.
“No one person’s journey is ever the same,” Tavel said. “So being able to work through their specific needs every single day is really rewarding in the fact that they walk out with a resource or a solution to whatever they're coming in for.”
Professionals at the M&FRC are often unsung heroes.
“Our job most of the time is very thankless just because we don't get to see the effects of our transitioning service members or members that come out of one of our workshops, we don't always get to see that joy that the workshop brings,” Tavel explained. “When our service members come back into our center, we take pride in listening to what they say and in being that kind of pillar in their life."
Transitioning service members that attend the Transition Assistance Program are not the only service members to benefit from the classes provided by the M&FRC. The M&FRC also has resources and classes such as the Family Advocacy Program, Military and Family Life Counselors, resume writing classes, Personal Work-Life classes and even creative collaboration sessions. Many of these classes intersect with mental health topics.
“We are doing a big push to really make sure mental health is a focus for our service members and their families in the year 2024,” said Tavel.
Another priority for the new year is the Federal Voting Assistance Program in which Tavel is FVAP program manager.
“I'm responsible for making sure that all of our unit voting assistance reps have their appropriate training and they have all of the materials that they need in order to help service members vote,” explained Tavel. “That information is so key in making change in our United States government and essential because we have service members and families coming from all over the place.”
FVAP, TAP, writing and work-life classes only scratch the surface on the resources available at the M&FRC. The M&FRC provides these by employing highly qualified specialists and counselors that at ready and willing to assist during service members' military careers. Tavel is no exception. She spent her entire career providing, guiding and empowering Airmen in their career and life.
“If you need anything, the time to come to us is not when you're in a crisis; it's before that crisis,” Tavel imparted. “But no matter what life throws at you: we're here to help along the way.”