Year of the Air Force Family

  • Published
  • By By Airman 1st Class Natasha E. Stannard
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing/ Public Affairs
Michael B. Donley, Secretary of the Air Force, and General Norton A. Schwartz, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, announced July 2009 to July 2010 as the Year of the Air Force Family. 

"Members of our Air Force Family truly are our greatest assets and this year of observance provides the perfect opportunity to say "thank you" and recognize the continuous, positive gifts they bring to our Air Force," General Schwartz and Secretary Donley said. 

The Air Force Family is made up of Active Duty, Reserve and Guard members, officer and enlisted, spouses and children. It extends to parents, friends and community members, who support Airmen. 

"Our Air Force Family is as dynamic and diverse as the unique Airmen and families it encompasses," Secretary Donley said. 

Two hundred professionals from across the Air Force came together at the Caring for People forum in April, which is where the notion of the Year of the Air Force Family was set in motion. They assessed current programs and made recommendations on expanding and enhancing those programs to meet the changing needs and expectations of the Air Force Family. 

"Taking care of families is a solemn promise we make to each Airman and family member," Secretary Donley said. 

Throughout the year, the Year of the Air Force Family will inform families of the development of new programs and highlight already successful programs. Topic areas addressed in which programs are being developed include: Special Needs Child Support, Deployment Support, Guard and Reserve Support, Single Airman Support, Family Support and School Support. 

This Year will be used to highlight the Air Forces commitment to the basic needs of Air Force families. It will feature affordable and available family housing, safe and vigorous schools, quality medical care accessible to families, Wounded Warriors and those with special needs; and affordable childcare that meets the needs of deployed family members and their working spouses. 

Programs scheduled are set for release this month through July 2010. 

The Fairchild Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness center will kick off its initiatives, which are set in the making, for the Year of the Air Force Family during National Military Family Appreciation Month in November, Brian Bennett, Fairchild Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness Center Community Readiness Technician said. 

The first week of National Military Appreciation month is Air Force Family Week. The purpose of family week is much like Year of the Air Force Family in which it will recognize and celebrate Air Force members and educate them on Air Force programs and community partners that support them. It will include various informational events such as information fairs, community service events, town hall meetings and more. 

"Our Airmen and Family Readiness Centers have been incredibly successful in helping our Airmen and their families address a wide range of concerns including education, employment, housing, retirement, childbirth, and parenting," Secretary Donley said. "We cannot however, rest comfortably on these accomplishments." 

Fairchild Air Force Base Airman family readiness center is working on adding new programs and improving those already in place, Mr. Bennett said. 

One initiative already put in place by the Airman Family Readiness Center is the construction of a lounge for families to comfortable wait in, for their deployed member's arrival at the deployment line here, Mr. Bennett said. 

"Community involvement will be a key factor," Mr. Bennett said." A lot more concentration will be put on community outreach especially with readiness and the exceptional military family program. " 

The exceptional military family program is a program provided at every base. It works with the medical community to support active duty members who have family members with special educational, physical, emotional, or developmental needs. The program guides the member's assignments ensuring the needs of the members families are met at their assignment location in turn bettering your family and career, Ruth Sunde, Airman Family Readiness Center community readiness technician, said. 

An implementation of the Year of the Air Force family here is the Exceptional Family member Information Fair on Oct. 1, at the DEEL community center. The fair will include on and off base professionals to answer questions and will provide take-home resources and materials. 

The goal is that through education and resource sharing, to build resiliency and enhance support systems for Spokane area military members with Exceptional family members Mrs. Sunde said. 

More initiatives that reach out to Active, Reserve, and Guard family members are being developed by the Airman Family Readiness Center, Mr. Bennett said. 

"Airmen want a sense of community, and sound Air Force policy can help foster it," Secretary Donley said. "But it is leadership at the local level (that) probably does more to fulfill that need. Developing or expanding support groups for families with deployed members doesn't cost much, but it pays huge in dividends toward increasing the sense of community and family. We shouldn't underestimate how important these human connections are or the impact of simply reaching out to our fellow Airmen."