by Dana Bretz
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a joint proclamation-signing event honoring our military, reaffirming the gratitude the locals have and offering their continued support. It was such an honor to see the region’s top elected officials take a moment to just recognize how important of a role the military community plays. It really resonated with me for some reason and made me think of all the other places we have been stationed. I’m sure many events like these took place all over our country, not just in our neck of the woods, which is known as “The Best Hometown in the Air Force”. I can attest that it comes by that name honestly, beautifully wrapped in Southern hospitality and graciously tied with a small town feel ribbon, the place we call home at the moment has its perks. I still wondered, in our nearly 11 years of being a military family, have I really been plugged in? Could I have made my own “Best Hometown in the Air Force”, no matter where I was? As a new spouse, you might have some of those same questions. It can be so easy to feel like a transplant all the time, walking around feeling disconnected from your surroundings, the place you may feel forced to call home. So what can we do dive right in and become a local?
I think one of the very best ways to hit the ground running, so to speak, is to get in touch with the family readiness center on your installation. Here in the Air Force, this called the Airman Family Readiness Center. I like to think of it as sort of a one stop shop when you first arrive at a base. Here you will find information on local volunteer opportunities, employment, and events in your area. This is a great starting place for you to get connected, do yourself a favor and make sure you get signed up for email notifications from your readiness center! They offer many other services such as classes in areas of personal development, financial readiness and career management. This list really does go on and on, to include school liaisons and counseling, the best thing you can do is give your readiness center a call to get a comprehensive list of what they have available. What are you waiting for?
We all hear about how important building relationships within our military community can be. This is so very important, but that doesn’t mean we need to neglect making relationships outside of base walls. Joining spouse clubs or being a part of a Key Spouse or Ombudsman Program is something a highly recommend. I also encourage you to join local groups in your civilian community. Whether it is at your church, your child’s school, a business related organization or a hobby related club…there are so many options when it comes to branching out. Also, make friends with civilian…most of them are people too! Just kidding, civilians, you’re awesome! What I’m trying to get at is don’t limit what you can do just because you feel like a temporary citizen, we can make a big difference in a short amount of time! If home really is where we make it, we have to put in some work and take some responsibility for our involvement in how good or bad our current situation is. Make a connection today!
Here are just a few good places outside of the “gate” to start looking for ways to join your community at a local level, whether it be volunteering, employment or activities. These are organizations that I have personal experience with and can be found all around the United States.