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Monday, October 15, 2007

Times Have Changed

I mentioned in yesterday's post the Families Apart dinner that is given once a month for those with a spouse deployed, TDY, or on a remote.

I know years and years ago the military didn't do much in the way of support for those families "left behind" - I think they were left to "fend for themselves" - the focus was always on the military member.

Times have sure changed. Now the focus is on the family as a whole, and what they can do to provide support to both the active duty member, and the families at home.

There are actually quite a few supports in place now for the families.

For instance - there is the "Stay Connected" program from the Youth & Teen Center. I went to the Center and picked up this backpack:

It was stuffed with all kinds of things. 2 photos frames, 2 picture mouse pads, 2 address books, 2 letter openers, 2 pens that you can record a message on, note cards and a disposable camera for Joe, and a cute plush bear for Kayla.

The bear even has the same "Stay Connected" backpack

Part of the outprocessing checklist is stopping by the Family Support Center (which is now the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, but that is more of a mouthful so most people still refer to it as Family Support). Joe came home with this folder (along with a calling card for himself):

Inside it were a bunch of booklets about deployment/separation and a deployment calendar. Most of the booklets talking about your parent being away were a little too old for Kayla, but its still nice they have that.

The kids' booklet has ready-made letters to fill out, fold, and mail to the parent.

Along with some postcards and stickers for the child to help describe their day and what they have been doing.

There are also a number of services offered through Family Support and other agencies on base (all at no cost to the families):

1. Morale calls. I'm given 15-minute morale calls where I can call the base operator and be connected to Joe's phone. How many calls you get depend on how long the military member will be gone. I get 18 of these "units."

2. Pictures on pillowcases. Family Support will take your picture (or you can bring in your own) and print them on pillowcases, along with any message you want. They make these for each member of the family - even the one leaving. Kayla loves her "daddy pillowcase." She gives him a kiss before bed and says "night night daddy!"

3. Car Care Because We Care. This is a free preventative service on our vehicle to include a free oil change and safety inspection at the Auto Hobby Shop on base.

4. The monthly Families Apart Dinner.

5. Give Parents A Break. The first Saturday of the month the Child Development Center is open from 9-3 for parents to drop their kids off, and basically, get a break! I haven't been able to use this yet as the first Saturday of this month we were in Roswell :) But I plan to take advantage of it next month. I don't see myself leaving Kayla there for 6 hrs, but it'll be nice to have a few hours on a Saturday to myself!

6. When the military member returns we're also authorized 16 hrs of free child care with a home day care provider; not sure that we'll really have a need for this, but again, it's nice they do this.

7. Key Spouse Program. Each squadron should have a key spouse. This spouse has been trained from Family Support and they are there to help with any issues that come up etc and to be an additional source of support. They usually keep in touch with other spouses in the squadron who have a spouse deployed/TDY/remote. No one from Joe's squadron has contacted me yet; even just to "check up" and see how I'm doing. It would be nice to know that they are aware my husband is gone, but oh well, I have my own support system with other friends from base :)

So there you have it - the perks of having your spouse deployed! LOL Now I bet you all don't feel so bad for me anymore having Joe gone! :)

I am thankful the military realized the families at home need support while their spouses' are gone and now have so many wonderful programs in place; I know it wasn't always this way.

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Sgt and Mrs Hub said...

Wow! I guess I am missing out on more than I realized with not being able to live on base. Daniel's deployment could have possibly been a bit easier on me and the kids if I had had access to a few of those resources.
Some days I feel as if I will never be living on a base again, but I know it's not true. It just feels unattainable right now. I really enjoyed base living - it's not perfect but it is nice to be part of a community of people that understand military life.

So glad that you are able to take advantage of these great resources!!


killlashandra said...

WOW! I'm so glad that times have changed and there IS support for the families at home. Historically, I think you're right and there was little support at home. Looks like you picked up some great items. I wish we could have got one of those too. My brother in law in Iraq could use those postcards from W.W. and ready made letters from the older kids.

He'll be home in December thank goodness.

Shelley said...

Sounds like you are in a good place.....not all miltary installations are like that. Of course, it might have to do with the branch of service too. Here, your husband just leaves & you're alone with your family, period.

Mindy said...

This sounds like such a wonderful program. I am sure when Kayla gets a bit older she will love the ready made letters and post cards (and the bear is just too cute!)

I am praying for Joe and your family. Warm wishes headed your way ~

ChupieandJ'smama said...

I'm glad they are doing all of the Michelle, but it just doesn't seem like enough. You guys are sacrificing so much for us. I am so grateful for Joe and others like him that are keeping us all safe. I wish, as a country, we could do more for you and Kayla and the rest "left behind". I'm praying for you all and sending hugs your way.

LauraJ said...

That backpack would make a GREAT diaper bag! I'm all about bags and free stuff!
Big big hugs to you and Kayla and widdle wee one too.

T*mmy said...

Wow...it sure sounds like they go out of their way to support ya'll! I'm so glad! You all deserve it!

Have a great day!

Karen said...

That is brilliant! If you hadn't have shared I would have no idea of these initiatives. I think that is fabulous.

Dana a/k/a Sunshine said...

I am so glad you have all that support. It is so vital to those left behind (and to the soldiers also). You are very smart to take advantage. I would especially LOVE the calls...you get 18! That is good...although 15 mintues is rather short....how many have you used so far? I would have a hard time rationing those!!

Catch said...

I think all of those programs are wonderful Michelle...when my husband was in Viet Nam they had nothing like that. Its nice to realize they are thinking of the whole family.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Michelle,
This is wonderful. I wanted to check in on you. I was concern that my blog may have upset you this week end.I am praying for you and your family.

Tricia said...

Wow! While it doesn't help with everything, it is nice to know you have a supportive community who is looking out for you while Joe is away.

MIL said...

I'm so glad they offer so much there for the family members. Things have sure changed since Dennis was deploying.

I have to say I've just about had it with Joe's squadron. First they don't show up when he leaves and now no one has been in touch. Maybe it's about time I made a few phone calls here and have them contact Holloman with my concerns? My CC just about called over the first incident.

Jen said...

You know we have been out of the military for almost 11 years now...and they DID NOT have what you all have now. But I'm very happy they have it for you......all we had were our neighbors...military family....like sgt and mrs hub said alot of people dont understand military life..that is hard...I had friends outside the military and we called them civilians..they would take offense of this....I didnt mean anything by it it was just a statement....I'm happy they have these things for you all now....I know it helps you out....hang in there my prayers are with you gal.

O Mama Mia said...

WHOA! That is awesome! But no, it doesn't make me feel any better that he's gone. :(
Are y'all able to do webcams at all?

Karen said...

I love your positive attitude! I am thrilled with the support of families in our area as well. We'r not military anymore but I know several families locally and they're very involved in the family programs.

Dori (Aviva's mommy) said...

I am glad they have these resources for you and other families with deployed soldiers...you all certainly deserve it.

HUGS and continued prayers for Joe!

amy flege said...

wow how cool is that! wonderful that did that for you and all the others there!

Nancy said...

Wow, that's incredible! Sounds like a great way to make something good out of a tough situation.

Kerry said...

First off, let me say how impressed I am that you took all those pictures of the stuff in those bags!

That is great they have all these programs in place. I definitely could use some of those services!

Patriot said...

That is great to hear - I'm glad that something is done to take care of military families! Thanks for posting!

Just wanted to let you know about a new giveaway I'm hosting this week for some more great, American made products! Come check it out!


Julie Bo said...

What a great program! You deserve every perk and more I say!

Mayhem And Miracles said...

That is great. You always do such a great job at counting your blessings. It is hard to imagine that the WWII families just "went it alone." I really love hearing about the phone connection units - that you can use them when YOU need them.

Nephesh said...

Wow! That is absolutely wonderful to be not only acknowledged during the time your husband is deployed, but also to have the family as a whole supported! Big hugs to you all!

Misslionheart♥ said...

That's great support. I'm not sure how I'd cope if Hubby had to go away, it's hard enough on a daily basis waiting for him to come home for his dinner, I'm always watching the clock!

Kathleen Marie said...

Boy times have indeed changed. I don't think my mom had much support at all while I was growing up on base. I remember her struggling so often, just to put food on the table. Having five small kids and your hubby gone often was a real burden for her. Dad was in the AF for 20 years. And when my hubby was in Nam - no supports that I recall. We did get one 15 min phone call a month - and you just prayed you could reach him - and at the time no internet so it was basically just letters.

I am so happy you have these supports to help you out! God Bless!

Anonymous said...

It's nice that they offer families all that support.You got some great items also. I like how they have the letter page for kids to write to someone who is away.
love ya,mimi

Mommatude said...

Okay-that made me kinda sad reading the covers of those books for Kayla.I am so glad that these services are available to you!!

Beck said...

This sounds like a very good program. And I'm so impressed with how cheerful and brave you are with the separation - God bless you.

Corey~living and loving said...

oh my goodness.....totally fabulous. Nothing makes up for having your loved one away, but it is so wonderful that they really try to be supportive. thanks for sharing all that. :)

Susie Q said...

I am so pleased to see all that is being done for families now. When I was first a military wife, in 1978, it was not this way. And that was still better than it had been earlier! It is about time for this change!

I am so happy that it is this way for you and for sweet Kayla.

Hugs aplenty,

Amy said...

Every little bit can be an encouragment, huh? And who doesn't love getting FREE stuff? And it is all so cute! Always praying for the four of you Michelle.

Hugs, Amy

Much More Than a Mom said...

Wow - that's an amazing service!

Renee's Ramblings said...

Wow!! This is really neat! I'm so glad that you all have some support while your hubby is gone.

Julie aka Gigi... said...

I am so glad those resources are available for you and Kayla! That is great! I know you must miss him so much, but having those programs in place probably makes it a little easier. A little easier. : )
How much longer until he comes home?

Sue said...

Hi - Sorry about being MIA - my computer is back up and I'm workong on playing catch-up.

That's great they have such wonderful programs for you and Kayla. It's definitely needed. The families sacrifice as well - not just those deployed! I love the pillow case idea. My girls would love that just "because". :)

Joy said...

That's awesome that there is so much support. We have a lot here as well. It does help!

Michelle said...

I just had to say - this is so cool that they do all this now! Michael was in Korea 6 months after we were married. We had no moral calls, no support, no nothing. We didn't live on base in TX and I was never contacted by anyone. Yuck. So glad things are so much better now! :) I know it doesn't help the fact that he's not there with the three of you though! Hugs! :)

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