Heart Link introduces spouses to Maxwell, community: Program wins Air Education and Training Command award

by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs

7/31/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Spouses at Maxwell-Gunter can experience Air Education and Training Command's best Heart Link program as it's offered Aug. 2 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Designed to unite family and spouses together, Heart Link has introduced new and seasoned military spouses to the Air Force and Maxwell for more than 10 years.

Ruben Aguilar, the A&FRC's volunteer resource coordinator, is organizing this year's interactive program. The program will include lunch, child care, games and door prizes.

"It's not only a way for spouses to learn and be educated on military life, but it's an opportunity for them to meet new people, make a friend and essentially make a new family member," Aguilar said. "It's also a time to tell them how important spouses are to the Air Force."

After winning the 2012 Heart Link Program of the Year for AETC, Maxwell's Heart Link is continually rearranging its programming to meet the specific needs of spouses, said Derrick Sanders, chief of 42nd Force Support Squadron's family support branch.

"The team at the Airman and Family Readiness Center takes great pride in helping the families in our community deal with the challenges and demands of military life," Sanders said.

"The Heart Link Program is just one way we go about doing that. Winning this award is a simply a reflection of the dedication and professional energy each member of the team exhibits every day," he said.

At this year's program, spouses will be able to introduce themselves and partner with one another to ask questions, learn more about each other and nurture new friendships.

Aki Cabusao, the wife of Capt. Michael Causao, chief of cyberspace operations at the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education, is one spouse who has been able to benefit from previously attending the Heart Link program.

"I am still new to the Air Force and just want to know more," said Cabusao. "Heart Link is a great opportunity to know other people and learn about the Air Force. Every time I go, there is new information presented so it's been really helpful."

Beforehand, spouses will receive informational handouts specific to the Air Force and base agencies at Maxwell.

Representatives from TRICARE, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the local community, the chaplain service, legal services, finance, protocol, the family advocacy program and A&FRC will speak at Heart Link to answer questions and share services.

Aguilar encourages spouses to take advantage of the A&FRC, which will help create contacts for them within the base community, including key spouses and leadership.

"One of the things we stress to them is if they are not exactly sure where to go, the Airmen and Family Readiness Center is going to be their first contact," he said. "If we don't have the answer, we will make sure we find where they can get that answer."

Attendees will be able to ask a panel of key spouses, commanders' spouses and enlisted spouses for advice and hear them share personal experiences as military spouses.

Heart Link also offers a chance for spouses to learn some of the history behind Maxwell and the Air Force and the service's customs and traditions, acronyms and rank.

As a result, spouses become familiar and comfortable with life as an Air Force spouse, which ultimately helps the Airman's family and the mission, Aguilar said.

"The military has come to realize the importance of the family and the spouse," Aguilar said.

"When the military member deploys, we want to make sure he or she is in the right frame of mind. As long as they understand their families are being taken care of and we're watching over them while they're gone, it will make life for both a lot easier and makes for a better military family," he said.

Colonel Trent Edwards, 42nd Air Base Wing commander, will give the last briefing of the program and hand each spouse a Heart Link coin, made especially for the event.

Spouses can register to attend Heart Link by Wednesday by calling the A&FRC at 953-2353. The next Heart Link program will be in November.