Deploying can be tough, not only on a military member but on the whole family. Airmen never go into a fight alone, neither should a spouse.
Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Wilkins, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant supervisor, is scheduled to deploy on a 365-day TDY. This will make three deployments and two short tours him and his wife Gina have been through.
“My wife and I have talked quite a bit about the deployment and resources available to her while I’m gone,” said Wilkins. “Programs like the Key Spouse Group, Military OneSource, the Airman and Family Readiness Center and the force support squadron are the most helpful.”
This is their top five helpful sources for any deployment:
Build a strong network of family and friends
“The biggest part of a deployment for the spouse is having a network of friends and family,” said Gina. “For me it’s my church family and my mother.”
If you don’t have that network there are those who are willing to help, such as key spouse groups and local support groups. A few local support groups include military life consultants and the base chaplains.
The Key Spouse Group is another crucial link in the chain, by supporting families, military members and a healthy way of life; they raise the standard of living for the whole family.
The Airman and Family Readiness Center
The A&FRC hosts a pre-deployment briefing at 1 p.m. Tuesdays in order to cover basic but critical information with the deploying member and their family.
“It’s easy and almost not optional to be told this information,” said Jonathan. “With every in-processing, out-processing and briefing in between, they give you the needed information. They make it available to keep people from slipping through the cracks.”
“One service I highly recommend is the finance office; take the time to set up an allotment. After I did this I didn’t have to worry about bills or making sure my wife had enough money in her account, it transferred over automatically each month.”
PLAYpass: One service provided by the A&FRC and the 86th Force Support Squadron is the PLAYpass. This program provides family members of currently deployed Airmen with opportunities to take a break from the challenges of deployment and have some fun for free. This version of the PLAYpass, reserved for those deployed or returning from a deployment, includes $500 preloaded to be used at any FSS facility. Some additional benefits include: free oil changes at the Auto Hobby shop, various programs with Outdoor Recreation, RTT and the Ramstein and Vogelweh Community centers.
“FSS and A&FRC S’ PLAYpass can be use toward the family at any services facility. They also load an additional $150 per kid to use towards 10 hours of home daycare a month in order to give parents a break,” said Gina.
“We provide services such as making power of attorneys, wills and notaries,” said Senior Airman Jared Flores, 86th Airlift Wing Legal Office.” We also provide legal assistance on civil matters to ensure our clients are legally ready before they deploy. We want to give ease of mind so they can stay focused on the mission.”
“The legal office was a great source of support; they helped us draft up power of attorneys, a will, and other necessary documents,” said Wilkins.
Military OneSource and other sites
Last but not least are the helpful sites that are directed towards deployed members of the armed forces. One such site, Military OneSource, has everything from deployment 101 guides to having a baby when your husbands are deployed, said Wilkins.
“All these outlets are great forms of support and provide a chance to unwind and spend time with the family,” said Gina. “It’s comforting to know that there are sources and outlets out there that can help me when he’s deployed.”