WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
The Air Force Materiel Command Family Connection program continues to ensure that military and civilian family members are connected with the resources and information they need to stay "mission ready."
The Family Connection Program builds on the Air Force Five and Thrive platform initiated by Sharene Brown, wife of Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. in late 2021. The Air Force program focuses on the top challenges faced by military families.
Because of its high population of civilian Airmen, AFMC leaders enlisted the help of the AFMC Community Action Team or CAT to go a step further and ensure families of both active-duty members and civilians are supported.
The CAT is a senior leader-driven group of subject matter experts responsible for identifying, assessing and advocating for the needs of the big ‘A’ Airmen of the command. Many of the members are helping agency program managers with specialized training in various support fields, to include health and wellness, mental health, safety and more.
Getting the information about all the resources available to those who need it was a gap that needed to be filled.
“There is a synergy between the resilience career field and readiness that was lacking at the MAJCOM [major command] level,” said Jeff Nelson, MAJCOM Military and Family Readiness Chief. “The resources are in place but making them accessible in one spot was the challenge.”
The CAT established a working group last year to develop a course of action for the command to enhance awareness among spouses and family members.
Lines of Effort (LOEs) were recommended to develop key civilian touchpoints, adapt the Key Spouse Program already in existence for military members to meet specific AFMC needs, and to develop consistent and targeted messaging to provide spouses with increased awareness and access to resources.
A notable advance in their efforts was the addition of a new Family Connection listing in the Air Force Materiel Command section of the USAF Connect app. Under “Thrive Resources,” the free app provides helpful information for the five major issues affecting military and civilian families: childcare, education, healthcare, housing and spouse employment.
The app highlights options for finding appropriate childcare, college financial aid and tutoring information for children and adults, military and federal employee health benefits, housing opportunities in the local area, and job assistance programs for adults, to name a few.
Family readiness was also a hot topic at the recent Senior Leaders Conference. An AFMC Senior Leader Spouse Advisory Group, consisting of spouses of AFMC senior leaders from across the command, was established to assist in identifying and advocating for top, quality-of-life issues facing personnel and their families. The first quarterly meeting chaired by Dede Richardson, spouse of AFMC Commander, Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, was held in April to brainstorm issues that should be addressed first.
The Richardson’s also hosted the first Virtual Family Connections forum last fall with a host of subject matter experts from across the Department of the Air Force sharing expertise and answering questions from the field.
A second forum is set for May 3 at 1 p.m. (EST), aligning with Military Appreciation Month. The focus for this event will be on childcare, eldercare, and the Exceptional Family Member Program, and is open to military and civilian family members from across the command.
“We try to gear our forums to the AFMC audience and, due to the make of the AFMC workforce, eldercare is a top issue for many in the command,” said Lesley Darley, AFMC Community Support Program Manager. “Many are in that sandwich generation who are caring for children as well as parents.”
“We have asked AFMC Centers to get creative in promoting events for Military Appreciation Month in conjunction with the Family Connections Program,” continued Darley. “For example, Hanscom plans to provide a live watch party during the forum as another opportunity to promote spouse interaction and connection.”
Airmen and their family members are encouraged to watch AFMC Center and installation websites for other events happening in their communities during Military Appreciation Month and throughout the year.
For more information:
The next Virtual Family Connect Forum will be held May 3 at 1 pm (EST), on Zoom. There is no registration, but those interested should email the AFMC Community Support Program [Afmc.firstname.lastname@example.org] team to submit questions and access the login information.