A&FRF provides services, comforting presence for those at home, deployed

  • Published
  • By Kara Ramos
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
With continued deployments, military members and their families need to be prepared at a moment's notice. The Airman and Family Readiness Flight offers multiple services and programs for single and married people, spouses and families of active duty and retired members.

Helping all military members and their families through deployments, adapting to military lifestyle and transitioning back into civilian life is a primary function of the A&FRF, said Ann Lukens, A&FRF flight chief.

"If you're part of my base, you're part of my family," she said. "While services at the A&FRF have always been important for the military, with the Global War on Terror, men and women need to be prepared once they set foot on Moody. Separations are more frequent. They need to be ready at any time."

The A&FRF provides a range of programs dedicated to deployments, focusing on both the military member and their family. One such program is the Read Aloud Program, which allows members with children to record themselves reading their child's favorite book. While the parent is deployed, the child can see and listen to their deployed parent on the video at any time.

"This helps so the child can continue to have that comforting presence of their parent while they are gone," she said.

The Airman and Family Readiness Flight also has the capability to print family photographs onto any item since when a parent is deployed some children may have difficulty remembering them, Mrs. Lukens said.

"Having a T-Shirt or pillow with their family's picture transferred on it allows family members, especially children, to see and feel close to their deployed parent," she said.

Keeping the lines of communication open is also key to a successful deployment, Mrs. Lukens said. Through the Hearts Apart Family Morale Call Program, the spouse of the deployed family member is allowed to place a 15 minute weekly morale call through the base operator.

Recognizing deployments can be stressful for those at home, the Air Force Aid Society developed the Give Parents a Break Program to give spouses some stress-free time during deployments. If a parent has children ages six weeks through 12 years, they can qualify for a few hours of childcare with funding provided through the AFAS.

"Deployments are at the top of the list for stress," said Thomas McGill, 23rd Mission Support Squadron community readiness technician. "Therefore, a program that provides spouses a few hours break from the stresses of parenting is totally outstanding."

Jackie Keeton, whose husband is currently deployed, has used some of the services offered by the A&FRF and AFAS.

"I feel the Give Parents a Break Program has helped me accomplish a lot," she said. "It helped me to really clean up the house and the yard. It also allowed me to take time for myself and to get that little needed break."

The AFAS also developed the Car Care Program to provide families a voucher for free oil and filter changes and vehicle safety checks.

"The Car Care Program has helped numerous spouses of deployed members by allowing a mechanic to inspect and identify items on the vehicle that are not safe," Mr. McGill said. "Our goal is to make sure the vehicle is safe for our spouses of deployed members which gives the deployed member one less thing to worry about while they are away."

For members returning home from deployment, the Returning Home Care Program provides parents with 16 hours of free childcare for children between the ages of two weeks to 12 years.

Along with programs offered by the A&FRF, Moody will focus on deployed people through the Air Combat Command Community Cares Program starting in October.

"We will be doing some additional special outreach to our families of deployed personnel through this program," Mrs. Lukens said. "The IDS agencies will provide seminars on coping skills for deployed spouses, common sense parenting as well as information fair. There will also be a children's quilt project as well as other activities."

The A&FRF also has new programs and initiatives for Moody residents. The recently established Key Spouse/Ombudsman Program consists of a spouse who receives emails and important information from the A&FRF who then notifies other spouses at Moody.

"The volunteer serves as a point of contact for information about the base and squadron," Mrs. Lukens said. "He or she is a conduit for information flow between a commander and his or her assigned families."

The A&FRF will send invitations to spouses in September encouraging them to attend the spouse information fair. The entire staff will be available to provide spouses with information and to answer any concerns people may have.

"While the A&FRF offers services to make deployments easier for families to cope with, it is also available to help military members adapt to the military lifestyle and help those leaving the Air Force to return to civilian life," Mrs. Lukens said. "The staff is here to help every member of Moody, whether single, married, on active duty or retired."