SHAPE, Belgium –
The culture shock of transitioning a family of five from Japan to Belgium can be daunting. Just ask James Anderson.
The Logistics Readiness Center Benelux employee, his wife Akiko, and their three children arrived in Belgium about five months ago. Their daughter, who is 6 and spent her entire life in Okinawa, Japan, is now enrolled at a local Belgium school. Their sons, also born and raised in Okinawa, attend SHAPE elementary and middle school on base.
As the LRC Benelux traffic manager, Anderson supervises a team of eight Belgium local national employees responsible for supporting the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux community in SHAPE and Chièvres with their in-bound and out-bound household goods and unaccompanied baggage shipments, their drivers testing and training needs, and their official travel requirements through CWT SATO.
But when he’s not at work, Anderson manages a different type of traffic – his family and their needs. Anderson said it was a major effort to uproot his Japanese-American family and move them halfway around the world to Belgium, but they’ve demonstrated much resiliency and adaptability, and USAG Benelux has many supportive programs in place to assist.
Moving from Okinawa after 16 years of living there and navigating the differences in culture and ways of life in Belgium has been tricky for him and his family but also interesting and fun, he said.
“We had to really hit the ground running when we arrived,” said Anderson, “but Belgium has been good to me and my family.”
“Compared to Japan, Belgium’s the wild, wild west,” said Anderson who served in the Air Force for 20 years before retiring as a master sergeant.
Wild west or not, having a really good team at LRC Benelux has helped make the Anderson family’s transition from Japan to Belgium easier. LRC Benelux’s primary mission is to support the community. This includes Anderson and his family. He just happens to work there, too.
“The day-to-day tasks and missions in support of the USAG Benelux community are very complex, and my team is very good at completing these tasks and missions,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better team. I’m very blessed to be here.”
Thanks to all the support they’ve received, the Anderson family is now taking full advantage of everything Europe has to offer by venturing out whenever possible. A recent trip to Switzerland was very memorable for them as well as Disneyland Paris, but living just a few miles from France also has its every day perks and joys, he said.
“We’re maybe 10 kilometers from the border of France so that’s been really nice,” said Anderson, who lives with his family in Binche, Belgium, about 30 minutes from his workplace at SHAPE. “Shopping is really cheap in France and really, really good. Like Belgium, France is a place we’re very comfortable roaming around and getting lost in.”
“It’s amazing to be able to do that. It’s a real treat,” he said.
For Soldiers, Army Civilians and Families arriving to the USAG Benelux area of responsibility – which includes SHAPE and Chièvres in Belgium as well as Zutendaal and Brussels, plus Brunssum and Eygleshoven in the Netherlands and Dülmen in Germany – there’s an informative and extremely helpful online Newcomer’s Guide available on the USAG Benelux website at home.army.mil/benelux/index.php/my-fort/processing/newcomers.
LRC Benelux is one of seven LRCs under the command and control of the 405th Army Field Support Brigade. LRCs execute installation logistics support and services to include supply, maintenance, and transportation as well as clothing issue facility operations, hazardous material management, personal property and household goods, passenger travel, non-tactical vehicle and garrison equipment management, and property book operations. When it comes to providing day-to-day installation services, LRC Benelux directs, manages and coordinates a variety of operations and activities in support of USAG Benelux.
LRC Benelux reports to the 405th AFSB, which is assigned to U.S. Army Sustainment Command and under the operational control of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The brigade is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and provides materiel enterprise support to U.S. Forces throughout Europe and Africa – providing theater sustainment logistics; synchronizing acquisition, logistics and technology; and leveraging U.S. Army Materiel Command’s materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website at www.afsbeurope.army.mil and the official Facebook site at www.facebook.com/405thAFSB.