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Spouses get a break for dinner, fun
Spouses of deployed service members mingle at Chapel 1 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Oct. 21. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)
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Spouses get a break for dinner, fun

Posted 10/27/2011   Updated 10/27/2011 Email story   Print story


by Air Force Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
JBER Public Affairs

10/27/2011 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Spouses are the unsung heroes who make minor repairs around the house, dedicate their time to their children and run errands while their husbands or wives are deployed. But now and then, even these spouses need a break.

The Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson first sergeants held the first deployed-spouse appreciation dinner at Chapel 1 on Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Oct. 21.
"We want to provide a caring support atmosphere," said Senior Master Sgt. Lonny Bower, 3rd Munitions Squadron first sergeant.

Bower's wife, Sherry, spent most of the week preparing nine pans of lasagna for the spouses. Dinner was served by chiefs and prizes were given out throughout the evening. Spouses had an opportunity to talk to their spouses' commanders, first sergeants, chiefs, and group commanders, said Bower, a Troy, Mont., native.

Often, what keeps deployed spouses from getting out and having an evening away is finding childcare, Bower said. They are consumed and become a single parent when their significant other is deployed. Time away - with childcare - can be a boon.

"It's a fantastic opportunity to be gathered together in fellowship to join hearts and hands," said Air Force Col. Robert Evans, JBER and 673d Air Base Wing commander.
"It's great talking to the spouses and I admire them so much. Their strengths and respect reinforce to me what a great Air Force and Army we have. It's all about your people - Airmen, Soldiers and families suffer and sacrifice so much; to support them and to see them all in great spirit supporting each other (is great)," said Evans.
Other senior leaders enjoyed talking to the spouses as well.

"The fact that senior leaders, first sergeants, commanders are here, it gives leadership a reason to see spouses one-on-one and not by email," said Command Chief Master Sgt. Lisa Kuehnl, 673d Air Base Wing.

Senior Airman Georgia Maguire's husband, Air Force Staff Sgt. Craig Maguire, deployed to Afghanistan from the 673d Communications Squadron. Maguire was one of the 43 attendees.

"I think that coming here to the dinner has brought the spouses together," she said.
Deployment can be hard when your spouse is gone, but having a first sergeant and leadership, it makes it easier to deal with, Maguire said.

"It's easier for us to connect because we are on the same boat, sharing our experiences," she said.

The dinner was not only a chance to get a break, but to make new friends and network.
The first sergeants hope to make spouse dinners a quarterly event. As the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division deploys, the plan is to have Army spouses participate as well.

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