Caring for Spouses: a Deployed Spouse Spa Day
By Senior Airman Jackson N Haddon, 97 Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 14, 2019
ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- While a Soldier, Airman, Marine or Sailor is away from home, they often leave family behind. Parents who once worked together are separated for six months to a year. The parent left behind is required to perform the duties of the two providers at home. While this life can be challenging, the 97th Force Support Squadron is doing what it can to ease the burden.
The 97th Air Mobility Wing, in conjunction with the Southwest Technology Center and the United Services Organization, offered a free spa day for families with a deployed family member, Jan. 12, 2018, at the Southwest Technology Center, Okla.
This event was a way to give back to parents who are doing “double duty” at home and to give them a break from the everyday workload.
“Deployed spouses were able to come in, get some food, fellowship, manicures, pedicures, haircuts, hair styles and any cosmetic needs that they would like,” said Master Sgt. Kristie Kidder, NCO in charge of the Airman and Family Readiness Center at the 97th Air Mobility Wing. “We had 42 spouses sign up initially but it looked like more than that took advantage of this amazing opportunity of this free service.”
Having a significant community relations with the Air Force aided in coordinating this event as the A&FRC reached out to find support for deployed spouses.
“I really have a passion for community service and I really wanted to get involved with the base,” Krissy Miller, a cosmetology instructor at the Southwest Technology Center. “We have a really strong connection with the base already because of the aviation program; this was just another way of reaching out and making that connection stronger.”
Connections are important, especially when families are separated. Since deployments can happen any time of year, deployed members can miss everything from holidays to major family events in service of the mission.
“At first, it was really hard,” said Marquitta Benford, spouse of Senior Airman Matthew Benford, a food services journeyman assigned to the 97th Force Support Squadron. “This was his first deployment after we got married. It was definitely an adjustment when he left. He was gone for Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s.”
For Benford, it was not the little things about her spouse being gone that bothered her, it was the bigger events in life and this weekend helped her cope.
“It’s really nice to have an event like this so we can sit back and relax for a few hours instead of just taking care of things around the house,” said Benford.
The Deployed Spouse Day was held with the intention of giving time back to families. Thanks to the many agencies working together, including the community of Altus and the 97th AMW, events like this are possible.
In addition to the services, provided by SWTC, another factor that aided this event was the annual “Give Parents a Break” held by the Child Development Center and the Youth Center on base. By offering parents additional day care for a couple of hours, more were able to take advantage of the opportunity.
While the Air Force offers multiple avenues of support for deployed spouses and family members, an event like this is not found at every location.
“I had many things offered to me, but nothing like this,” said Tammy Carney, spouse of Col. Eric Carney, commander of the 97th Air Mobility Wing. “I think in the middle of a deployment it’s easy to get overwhelmed and if you have small children at home, which most of these spouses do, you don’t have the time to go out and get pampered. I also think it’s wonderful that the CDC and Youth Center on base were open to take care of children today.”
Letting people know they are not alone can be all it takes to help them through a deployment. Events like this bring spouses together.
“This gives the spouses something to do. They get to know each other and see that they are in the same boat as a lot of other people,” said Courtney White, spouse of Staff Sgt. Rick White, a vehicle maintenance technician assigned to the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron. “Even if you don’t know anybody here, you get the feeling that you do have someone to talk to because we’re all going through the same thing.”
While deployments may be hard, the 97th Air Mobility Wing is committed to supporting the families awaiting their Airman’s return.