Just like military aircraft need their maintainers or crew chiefs, Airmen need their support systems. Not only for their physical health, but their emotional needs as well.
As part of the U.S. Air Force’s continued commitment to support all aspects of a service member’s foundation, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., brought five military spouses together, Oct. 19, 2022, to inform them on military life and how it relates to them.
The 56th Force Support Squadron Military and Family Readiness Center hosted the Heart Link Spouse Orientation to increase awareness of the Air Force mission, customs, and the support resources available to them in the community.
“The program is designed specifically for spouses to learn about military culture, customs and courtesies and things that we offer here at Luke,” said Edwin Robinson, 56th FSS community readiness consultant. “For example, when you join the Air Force, the military tells (the service member) about customs and courtesies. When we have reveille, you stand at attention. Some spouses and kids don’t know things like that, so we emphasize on things of that nature.”
Robinson further described his personal experiences growing up in the U.S. Air Force.
“I’m a military brat,” Robinson said. “A lot of people tend to forget that spouses are serving alongside their (Airmen). My mother had to leave every single time my father had an assignment. She had to stop doing what she was doing and go follow my dad.”
The orientation is designed for new spouses of less than five years, but it is open to all military spouses who are new to a base or location, especially if they would like to know more about helpful resources that are unique to 56th Fighter Wing or the mission of Luke AFB.
“A lot of spouses can feel like they’re just a dependent,” said Laura Smith, a military spouse from the 62nd Fighter Squadron. “But these orientations give you a sense of how important you are to the military and to the mission, they want you to be involved.”
During the orientation, base agencies, such as Family Advocacy, the Wing Chaplain, Protocol, Key Spouses, First Sergeants and even the 56th FW command team, Brig. Gen. Jason Rueschhoff, 56th FW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer, 56th FW command chief, attended the event to brief the spouses on the overall mission at Luke AFB.
“They have very busy days,” said Smith. “And it was very cool that they took the time (to speak at Heart Link).”
As part of Heart Link, Military spouses received a tour of the base to better understand how Luke AFB functions on a day-to-day basis.
“We showed them where the commissary is,” said Robinson. “The Base Exchange, the Thrift Shop and the 56th Medical Group. On this tour, the 61st Fighter Squadron showed them the life-support equipment that pilots wear when they fly.”
During the tour, the 56th Security Forces Squadron K9 unit and 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department gave demonstrations.
“I had never been to the K9 unit or the Fire Department,” Smith said. “I’ve seen all these buildings from the outside, but now when I see them, it just feels closer. I’m more comfortable now. It just made me feel like a part of the mission. I’m thankful that I went. It was a day well spent.”
The staff members at the M&FRC continue to find new ways to support not only the men and women who serve, but those who choose to be there for them.
The next orientation is scheduled for April 26, 2023. Heart Link occurs twice a year currently and may become quarterly as the program progresses. For more details about M&FRC events, contact Edwin Robinson or Heidi Goodbar at 623-856-6550.