Once a month, the Airman & Family Readiness Center sponsors a deployed family night to showcase those “serving” at home.
The deployed family night is part of a larger initiative, Project Care, a U.S. Air Forces in Europe program intended to improve the resources, care and information flow to family and spouses while the military member is deployed.
Together, Project Care and Air Force Aid put on deployed family night every month. Each month it varies from a dinner, skate night or bowling.
“Project Care is important because we want to let families know we care for them, and they know who to go to when they need help,” said Col. Don Bacon, 435th Air Base Wing commander. “But, it’s really about keeping the family engaged and happy, and letting them know we care.”
The program ensures families are incorporated into the base community and provided with the support they need while their family member is deployed.
“I hope Project Care provides a network of other people who have family members for support as well,” Colonel Bacon said. “Also, they can meet people that have resources for them like the Airman & Family Readiness Center, chapel needs, financial advice and legal support. They are around experts who can help them out if they are having a hard time.”
While the night is designed to connect families with people who can help their situation, it also allows base leadership to connect with the families.
“This time also allows me to go to each one and ask them how they are doing and if they need help. It lets me know if we are doing things right,” Colonel Bacon said.
Many of those in attendance at the bowling night in March were happy with the festivities that were offered.
“This is an awesome event for the families of deployed members. It allows us all to get together with people we share something in common with,” said Tre’al Mullings, spouse of deployed Airman 1st Class Marlin Mullings, 435th Communications Squadron.
Sometimes having a deployed family member can be stressful, but these occasions allow them unwind.
“It gets the family out of the house and gives them the opportunity to meet others in the same situation,” said Master Sgt. Willis Davis, 435th Mission Support Squadron readiness NCOIC. “Sometimes this is the only time for the families to get out of the household. I am glad we can provide a chance for deployed family members to get out.”
Not only does deployed family night honor the families, but it also recognizes those downrange.
“These nights are an opportunity to acknowledge and pay tribute to the continued fight downrange,” Sergeant Willis said. “The families here are heroes on the home front.”
Having a family member deployed can add stress not only to the kids, but also the parent left behind.
“The best part (about the event) is the kids having a great time,” Sergeant Willis said. “A little girl told me she was so happy because she finally saw her mom smile for the first time in a long time.”
Sergeant Willis said any family members are welcome to attend.
“Families can get out and have some fun without having to pay for it,” he said.
The next deployed family night takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the 86th Construction and Training Squadron.
For additional information on Project Care or deployed family night, contact the A&FRC at 480-5100.