Team Fairchild hosts 2018 Congressional Family Summit
By Airman 1st Class Jesenia Landaverde, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 24, 2018
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Team Fairchild hosted government and military officials during the ninth annual Congressional Military Family Summit, Oct. 17, at Fairchild Air Force Base.
The annual summit was hosted by Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Georgia Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. The event gives military members and their families the opportunity to voice their concerns about quality of life directly to legislators and senior military leaders.
“The summit comes at an important time for Fairchild, as we are in the process of growing our family,” said Col. Russ Davis, 92nd Operations Group commander. “This growth will result in Fairchild and the Inland Empire being the home to the largest air refueling force on the planet. With growth comes the challenge of taking care of new families… and the results of the summit will have a direct impact on meeting that challenge.”
Over the next 18 months, Fairchild is adding 12 KC-135 Stratotankers and an additional air refueling squadron, increasing the operations tempo.
“More tankers, means more Airmen and more mission,” said, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright. “Tankers play a key strategic and operational role in global reach and mission readiness. As we see an increase in operation, we will continue to monitor and ensure our Airmen are taken care of, not only for resilience and readiness but for their families too.”
The influx of more than 400 personnel and their families will bring upward of 1,000 people to the Inland Northwest community. This increase in population will in turn affect the economic impact on the local community, raising the demand for housing, various goods and services. .
“Everyone from community leaders, senior military leaders, military members and spouses have invested in taking care of our military families,” Wright said. “Families get to come to the summit and listen to recent and relevant information about what we are doing to improve quality of life and how we plan to tackle some of the concerns they might have.”
During the summit, military families discussed and addressed challenges they face such as military spouse unemployment and education, pay and benefits, TRICARE and childcare.
“None of the issues addressed can be fixed overnight,” Wright said. “It takes all of us working together from Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and command teams to collaborate and communicate. Some of the challenges are finding ways to communicate the great things that are already happening. There are also a lot of programs that already exist that military members and their families may not know about.”
The summit highlighted many free resources and programs service members and their spouses can use including first sergeants, key spouses, the Airman & Family Readiness Center and Military OneSource, a website that provides resources and support to service members around the world. These support resources contribute to the stability, success and mission readiness of military families.
“There is an old saying amongst military circles, ‘we recruit individuals, but retain families,” Davis said. “This is why we are here today -- to have a dialogue on how to better support our families in order to retain our warriors.”