Spouses serve on the home front

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- The Air Force realizes the hardship and sacrifices made by our spouses and families as the nation continues to wage the global war on terrorism. Our spouses serve our nation just as we in uniform serve. They commit themselves to the Air Force just as service members do, and they make an immeasurable contribution to the readiness of our Air Force.

I’m convinced the success we enjoy as an air force and on a personal level could not happen without the support of our spouses. Often, the love and support of a spouse has driven a military member to achieve excellence. It truly takes a special person to be willing to accept the absence of their loved ones and the sometimes long and unpredictable work hours -- often having to explain to a child why mom or dad can’t be at home. These husbands and wives keep the home and family running smoothly.

As our AEF 9/10 personnel return from deployment, it’s important for us to recognize the contributions, sacrifices and extraordinary efforts of our spouses and families. They endured the separation from our deployed personnel while missing and worrying about their loved ones. Such separations can cause a lot of stress. It’s never easy to handle everything at home -- from kids, to bills, to maintenance – and couple that with fears for the safety of their deployed spouse, it can be overwhelming at times.

Our Spouse Reintegration Program is designed to address the issues associated with this kind of stress and strain. We want our spouses to know that the right focus is being placed on their well-being; physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and who they can turn to for help. Commanders and supervisors at all levels want to make sure our families’ needs are addressed and taken care of as they make the sometimes difficult transition back to normal family life. Agencies and personnel who have the responsibility for these tasks will work with our families to ensure their reintegration goes smoothly. Reintegration is a process, not an event. It’s important to take care of urgent needs and to not procrastinate on essential responsibilities dealing with relationships, health or financial matters. Patience and allowing sufficient time will facilitate each family coming together again.

We’ve developed a detailed Spouse Reintegration Guide, which can be obtained from key spouses, commanders and first sergeants. It explains what the reintegration program is, why we have it, some areas of reunion concern that need particular attention, and outlines the returning military member’s reintegration program.

Along with the guide, we are holding spouse reintegration sessions in each unit with members returning from deployment. At each session, we will have a senior key spouse, chaplain, family support center representative and family advocacy representative. We will also have a session at the Deployed Spouses Meal on Tuesday at the La Dolce Vita dining facility.

Another really informative program we’re offering is the True Colors, “Keys to Personal Success,” course to couples who would like to attend. It’s a personality assessment course that helps each person identify their personality characteristics and also learn how to interact with people of other personality types.

In my nearly two years at Aviano, I’ve been constantly impressed by how stable our families and our overall community are. We can attribute this in large part to the self-sacrifice and dedication of our military spouses. By standing behind their loved ones, our spouses are serving as well. We are grateful for the wonderful support our spouses provide and give them our thanks. They’ve taken care of us all, and we’re all better for it.