HILL AIR FORCE BASE — After extended periods of time apart, whether from a deployment or lengthy TDY, military spouses can benefit from a helping hand.
That’s the idea behind Spouse Reunion Training, which is being offered from noon to 1 p.m. March 9 at the Airman & Family Readiness Center. The training is designed to help couples take on the reintegration process more smoothly and learn about their resources as they reconnect with loved ones.
Reunion training is held once a quarter, or as requested. The last briefing was for a large group of 729th Air Control Squadron members returning from deployment.
“No matter what the situation, there is someone who has been there and can offer some assistance. There is no need to suffer through things with no help when there are programs aplenty to help,” said Ann Williamson, a key spouse whose husband recently returned from a deployment. She attended that recent class.
“I would like families to understand that nobody is watching or keeping track of what they do,” she said. “This training offers spouses and military members a chance to see what programs and services are available for free to assist them with transition in all areas. They discuss, money, children, relationships, counseling, vacations, baby-sitting, retirement and more. There truly is no need to suffer through hard times and situations.”
Senior Master Sgt. Carrie Morgan, A&FRC Readiness Non-commissioned Officer in Charge, elaborated on the purpose of the training.
“Our intent is to make families aware of the possible issues and concerns families may encounter within the first six months of reunion,” she said. “The benefit is knowledge. We aim to enhance awareness toward common trends and explain resources available to help families be resilient during reintegration and reunion.
“We like to refer to this briefing as the ‘Spouse Reunion Road Show.’ Together with the A&FRC, Chapel, Family Advocacy Program/Mental Health and Military Family Life Counselor, we will go to most locations to perform this briefing as requested … Each organization offers tips for reconnecting families following a deployment, extended TDY or remote tour. Included in this brief is a layout of programs and support available for families, marriage care and community outreach programs to include the Integrated Delivery System better known as the Helping Hands agencies.”
Mindy Rupert, wife of Maj. Andrew Rupert, 729th ACS, strongly believes the training is a crucial part of making the reintegration process go more smoothly: “It is great to be reminded that life has gone on for both the family that was at home and for the deployed family member. Patience and compromise (are) necessary for the reintegration process. Change is inevitable, and it’s easier to work together to find a solution that will work for your family now.”
To attend the Spouse Reunion Training on March 9, register by calling the A&FRC at 801-777-4681. The class will be in in the center, in Building 150.
“Any Total Force member and/or spouse can attend regardless of a deployment, extended TDY, or remote tour. Because we all fall into a deployment situation at one point or another, we do not restrict this briefing to only those on a current deployment,” said Morgan.
According to Rupert, “Whether it’s the first or 10th time you’ve taken the course, there will always be something to learn. It helps lower unrealistic expectations. Also, each deployment happens at different stages of life: no children to different stages of children’s lives, and it’s good to take the time to be ready as a couple to face the changes that will happen and to consider together the helpful/necessary actions to make the process smoother.
“I think it would be great for couples to attend this training together. In my experience, my husband and I have been to these briefings at separate times. I know that separately, while we may absorb similar key points, we also connect with different topics and attending together may open up more lines of communication in areas otherwise not considered by our spouse.”
Another resource for those returning from a deployment, or who have an upcoming deployment in the near future, and their immediate families is the Team Hill AEF Retreat Program. The retreat will take place April 17-19 at Wolf Creek Resort in Ogden Valley. All meals, lodging, and activities are free. Crafts, games, and various resilience sessions also will be offered free of charge for families. The whole weekend will focus on family connections and resiliency. Register by April 3 by contacting your First Sergeant, or call the Chapel with questions at 801-777-2106.
“The military has a unique impact on families. We want our families to be resilient so that they not only sustain but succeed through the demands of our military’s mission,” said Morgan, who also relayed a quote from Jody Coleman, A&FRC Community Readiness Specialist:
“Our aim for families is to reduce struggles and times of disconnect and increase the joy and peace of reuniting, and for them to celebrate the fact that both spouses have grown and can be a better family because of it.”