By Zachary Hada, 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 01, 2018
Families of deployed military members have resources available to them they may not be aware of at the 55th Force Support Squadron’s Airmen and Family Readiness Center located in building 323C, room 206.
The A&FRC provides resources to meet the needs of Airmen and their families throughout the deployment cycle.
“Our aim is to take care of whatever needs family members of deployed Airmen have or point them in the direction of supporting agencies that can help,” said Tech. Sgt. Thomas Atkinson, A&FRC readiness NCO. “We have many resources available to assist families with the stresses of the deployment process.”
Atkinson added, the center has pre-deployment briefings which provides military and family members with the opportunity to prepare for a deployment together. The briefing covers homecoming preparation, financial planning, communicating with children about deployments, dealing with unexpected issues and more.
“The purpose of these briefings is to educate families and to show them how to stay healthy during the deployment process,” said Master Sgt. Elizabeth Alicea, A&FRC readiness NCO in charge. “This is a great way to inform members and their families what resources are available to help them.”
Alicea said, the more informed a family is the better they can cope with the challenges of a deployment.
When a member is tasked to deploy for more than 30 days they are required to receive a briefing about deployments and everything A&FRC has to offer. They are encouraged to bring their spouse but few do.
“They’ll assume their spouse has it covered and that they don’t need help but a lot of times spouses do need help,” Atkinson said. “We want the member to give their spouse this information and let them make the decision on if they want assistance or not, if they want to utilize our programs or not.”
Alicea added, that taking part in these programs not only helps the family members get through a tough time but it also provides piece of mind to the deployed member.
“Going away is stressful, and at the end of the day you just want to make sure your family is okay,” Alicea said. “I remember having a number of families coming in who may have been having trouble. We we’re able to help them out, so their member was able to focus on the mission because they didn’t have to worry about home.”
The A&FRC also offers quarterly chapel moral events, support groups, comfort blankets, childcare programs, dolls with recorded messages from the deployed member, free oil changes from the auto-hobby shop when members are deployed more than 30 days, and car care programs are also available to the families of deployed Airmen and so on.
"We want our military members to understand they have a support system behind them that will support their families in their absence," Atkinson said. “We want to let families know that they’re not alone. They don’t have to single parent it they whole time their spouse is gone.”
The readiness center also offers post-deployment services, such as reintegration briefings, to prepare Airmen for reunion with their families, friends and co-workers. Chaplains and other helping agencies provide counseling services, briefings and guidance on reunion issues when needed.
"It seems like the reunion would be easy, but it can bring its own challenges," Alicea said. "Both the deployed Airman and the family have changed during the separation.”
Family rules and routines often need to be adjusted to fit the new reality. Spouses and children have often become more independent and service members often go through life-changing events during deployments.
The A&FRC wants to remind everyone that in addition to deployment support, other services are available on a daily basis such as Spousal Resilience Class, Heart link, Key Spouse Training, Bundles for Babies, investment classes, resume writing for spouses and much more.
“We’re here to help by answering any question or provide guidance to families,” Atkinson said. “Families shouldn’t hesitate to call for help even if it isn’t deployment related.”
For more information on services offered by the Airman and Family Readiness Center, call (402) 294-4329.