Spouse Appreciation Week: Events link them to the mission

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

5/18/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Spouses took part in more than 25 events and programs as Maxwell Air Force Base celebrated Spouse Appreciation Week May 7-11.

"It is a week to say 'thank you' for all our military spouses do here in the Maxwell Air Force Base community, and I sincerely hope that our military spouses realize how appreciated they are," said 2nd Lt. Tamara Duff, project officer for Spouse Appreciation Week.

The week began with an information fair and visit from Suzie Schwartz, wife of Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz. Events included a tour of the greenhouse, discounts at the bowling centers and Cypress Tree Golf Course, True Colors personality assessment and a 5K walk-run.

"It is an honor to be able to provide spouses the opportunity to have a day with free childcare, free lunch and lots of great information on resources they have, or to give them an opportunity they might not ordinarily have like watching a military working dog demo or flying on a C-130," Duff said.

One of the goals was to develop an understanding of how the Air Force operates and how spouses play a role in the mission.

"The motivation for the events for the week was to orient the spouses of Maxwell Air Force Base with the mission," Duff said. "We incorporated events such as the military working dog demonstration, firehouse tour and a C-130 orientation flight to help our spouses better understand and experience the mission here at Maxwell Air Force Base."

Military working dog demo
About 20 adults and 10 children learned about security force's working dogs during a demonstration May 8.

Many spouses had seen the kennels at Maxwell and wanted to learn more.
"If I wanted to see the kennels, I needed to take advantage of this opportunity," said Kym Robertson.

Tech. Sgt. Steve Montez, the kennel master, gave a tour of the facility, including the veterinarian clinic. "In here, we can maintain everything," he said of the full-service facility.

In the gated training area, trainers demonstrated how the dogs respond to commands and threats.

"Basic obedience is the foundation of everything we do," Montez said. To make certain the dogs are at their best, the Airmen train them every day to ensure they have total control of the animals.

One of the trainers' goals is to keep the dogs happy, which develops a more effective working relationship. "You want the dog to work with you because he likes you, not because he's afraid of you," Montez said.

This relationship was obvious to the spouses.

"The dogs are happy, they enjoy what they're doing and they work as a team," said Vicki Law.

Education benefits briefing
Nate Baker, and academic advisor from the education office, talked to spouses May 8 about financial aid opportunities and benefits.

Those interested in learning more about their ideal career can use the discover computer program, which measures a person's interests, values and needs. The assessment helps users discover an ideal career goal, identify the education needs for that career and lists the schools offering those educational programs.

Baker encouraged spouses to visit the education office to learn about financial resources. "The cost of higher education is going up every year," he said. "But once you have your education, no one can take it away from you."

Spouses should contact base agencies, including Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Defense Commissary Agency, spouses clubs and Military One Source, to learn about scholarship opportunities, he said.

Certain benefits for active-duty service members can be transferred to spouses, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The education office can help spouses and service members take advantage of these financial aid opportunities.

Baker also said spouses should look into online degree programs and institutions in the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges consortium, which can create continuity during permanent changes of station. The education office also helps people find military-friendly schools.

For information, call 953-5959.

C-130 flight
About 40 spouses got an aerial view of Maxwell and Montgomery May 10 from a C-130, courtesy of the Air Force Reserve's 908th Airlift Wing. This is the second time the 908th has offered an orientation flight during Spouse Appreciation Week.

"I had the honor of flying last year," said Sandi Killough, wife of 42nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Brian Killough. "You're about to have the time of your life."

For Natalie Connell, this was a chance to learn more about what her husband does when he flies.This flight also added to her "collection" of military planes, after flights on a C-17 and C-5.

"Every plane is different," she said. "If you haven't been on a military flight, it's a great opportunity to see the difference between commercial and Air Force flights."

Colonel Killough spoke to the spouses during the orientation briefing, telling them that this flight links them into the greater mission. The more they learn about the Air Force and Maxwell operations, the more they become part of the team.

He said he was pleased the 908th Airlift Wing and the 42nd Air Base Wing were able to work together to provide the opportunity for spouses.

"It's a chance to give back to you and say 'thank you,'" he said.