Bringing joy to deployed family members

Story and photos by Airman 1st Class Kristof J. Rixmann
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Lt. Col. Renee Thuotte, 86th Force Support Squadron commander, and Senior Master Sgt. Wesley Tuson, 86th FSS senior enlisted leader, give a round of applause to Jim Kramer, a recreational aid employee, for his commitment to the families of deployed service members this holiday season at J.R. Rockers Dec. 15 on Ramstein Air Base. Kramer said he believes events like these are the best thing they can do for deployed families.

Families of deployed Airmen came to see Santa as part of the Deployed Families Holiday Event at J.R. Rockers Dec. 15 on Ramstein Air Base.

The Airman and Family Readiness Center organizes deployed family member events once a month, which are offered to family members of deployed Airmen to increase a sense of community among these families while their loved ones are away.

Jim Kramer, unit recreational aid employee, devotes his efforts to providing good times to these families during the holiday season. Each year, he dons his Santa suit from the Friday after Thanksgiving until Christmas every day, regardless if he’s going to a photoshoot or to the grocery store.

“Events like these are the best things we can do for them,” said Kramer. “It gives them a chance to be with other parents and kids that are in the same boat. The only way to survive without your significant other during these times is to connect with these families that also don’t have their loved ones with them.”

Master Sgt. Peter Krueger, the A&FRC non-commissioned officer in charge, shares similar beliefs with Kramer on the importance of these events.

“Families can sometimes think the process of being without their loved one is overwhelming and they can feel as if they are the only ones going through it,” said Krueger. “Events like these, however, offer a great opportunity to meet families just like your own. This creates a bonding experience that can help.”

This most recent Christmas event for deployed families offered food, drinks, and photos with Santa.

Several speeches were also made by people like Lt. Col. Renee Thuotte, 86th Force Support Squadron commander, in appreciation of these families.

For the month of January, the A&FRC is scheduled to host a movie night at the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center Reel Time movie theatre Jan. 25 at 5 p.m.

For more information on A&FRC events around the KMC, contact them via 480-5100 or 06371-47-5100.

Families of deployed service members assigned to units at Ramstein Air Base congregate and socialize with one another at J.R. Rockers Dec. 15 on Ramstein Air Base. The 86 Airlift Wing Airman and Family Readiness Center hosts events for families of deployed loved ones once per month.