Ramstein officials celebrate Air Force Family Week

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Voss
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Ramstein Air Base officials held numerous events inviting active-duty, Guard and Reserve members as well as spouse and civilian employees to see firsthand some of the services available to them at the base's Airman and Family Readiness Center as part of Air Force Family Week Nov. 4 here. 

This year has been designated by the secretary and the chief of staff of the Air Force as Year of the Air Force Family, and the first week of November was named Air Force Family Week.

According to the Air Force Portal Year of the Air Force Family Web site, "over the course of the year the Air Force will focus on providing leadership at all levels a vehicle to communicate information and data to Airmen, family members, surrounding communities and Department of Defense audiences on the variety and scope of programs offered by the Air Force."

The Web site goes on to explain, "The purpose of Air Force Family Week is to recognize and celebrate the many members of the Air Force Family, while providing education and awareness on how Air Force programs and community partners support them."

"Many times the servicemember becomes so busy with work, be it normal day-in and day-out work or deployments, they may not be aware of the many support agencies available to them," said Gail Brinkley, the Ramstein AB Airman and Family Readiness Center flight chief. 

The open house wasn't just about the Airman and Family Readiness Center, but about all the agencies that provide support to every part of the Air Force family, said Mrs. Brinkley, who has been around the Air Force for 18 years, and at Ramstein AB for more than two years.

Airman and family readiness centers by design are set up to enhance readiness by assisting individuals and families with adaptation to the challenges and demands of expeditionary operations and the military life-style, but bases such as Ramstein AB offer so much more to support families. 

"It's not just us (at Airman and family readiness centers) that provide support for Airmen," Mrs. Brinkley said. "Airmen have numerous other agencies from the USO to the child development centers, even their unit first sergeant."

Many of those agencies and first sergeants were on hand to greet the more than 200 guests who came to the all-day event.

"The words Year of the Air Force Family mean to me, supporting not only our active-duty, but Guard, Reserve, civilians and dependents," said Master Sgt. Lavory Sparks, the 86th Mission Support Squadron first sergeant. "The programs to support our servicemembers and their families have always been here, but may not have been as well advertised as they are now."

Some of the Ramstein AB members in attendance play a major role in working with support agencies on base, but came to the open house to just refresh their own storage bank of what is out there for Airman.

"Leadership has deemed this Air Force Family Week, and we as first sergeants are here touching base with some of those supports agencies that are here not only for us, but also our Airmen," said Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Foreman, the 786th Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant. "The Air Force made a good call focusing this year on the Air Force family. It is really important especially with the stress of life on today's family, that we take the time and put the focus where it needs to be, supporting not only our Airmen but the families they leave behind when they go forward supporting the mission."

The Airman and Family Readiness Center open house event also made one thing apparent; those who had received support at some point during their Air Force career were in force to support their fellow Airmen who need help now.

"The Air Force has provided me a lot of resources as a single parent, from the CDC after-school programs to the A&FRC give parents a night out program," said Staff Sgt. Marlese Yelardy, who manned the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator booth as a volunteer victim advocate during the event. 

"I have relied on some of these services to juggle my career and personal life," said Sergeant Yelardy, a 700th Contracting Squadron contractor. "Through some of the support agencies the Air Force provides me the ability to do this. In my experience, the focus has always been on the mission and supporting the Air Force family. This year, we have identified those areas we could improve and brought that support to the limelight."