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386th MWR brings respite to deployed service members

.  The 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron provides quality morale, welfare and recreation services and programs for the service members and coalition forces deployed.

Master Sgt. Kimberlee Koldste, 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron first sergeant, helps out at the 12 Days of Bingo event at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Dec. 24, 2017. The 12 Days of Bingo provided 386th EFSS customers the opportunity to win prizes daily from Dec. 13 to 25, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. William Banton)

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Despite deployed location challenges, the 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron provides quality morale, welfare and recreation services and programs for service members and coalition forces.

“We deal with everything from the Army to the Marines…to the NATO troops,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Rush, 386th EFSS MWR day shift noncommissioned officer in charge. “We hit every troop here possible and we get to serve them all. I really enjoy being able to take care of the troops.”

This year, the staff provided Airmen with numerous holiday-themed events which included holiday karaoke, a lip-sync battle, public showings of holiday movies and 12 days of bingo, which provided service members the opportunity to win prizes, including gift cards and electronics. The MWR also worked with the United Services Organization for a special holiday event and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to provide a Hollywood blockbuster movie to the area of operations, the same day it was released in the U.S.

“I think we give people an opportunity to kick back and offset their minds of their surroundings” said Master Sgt. Nicole Zottola, 386th EFSS MWR facility manager.

Senior Airman Jorge Correa, 386th EFSS MWR assistant shift lead, said additional nonappropriated funds are sometimes provided for events such as concerts, which can also support future events.

“What we sell, like concessions, all that goes straight to funding events for Airmen like the prizes for bingo,” said Correa.

The MWR staff is also tasked with actively coordinating performers and entertainers through the Armed Forces Entertainment, the Defense Department agency assigned to providing entertainment to deployed military personnel. Every year AFE hosts more than 600 shows, reaching more than 400,000 personnel at 200 military installations around the world.

These types of events require teamwork and coordination through multiple installations and organizations.

“For instance, for a concert, the headliner is going to have other country nationals with them, we need force protection for that” said Zottola. “We need civil engineer support for the generators. We need [386th Communication Squadron] support for the microphones and audio equipment. If we decided to offer refreshments we have to go through rations and if we have to bed down the performers, we’re going to have to go through lodging and make sure there are rooms.”

This team mentality has helped the MWR make the coordination and implementation of these events seem effortless.

“It’s trying to figure out how to bring everything full circle and how to resource [the event],” Rush said. “I love it because the ultimate outcome is priceless…when you see everyone jumping up or getting excited about the band, or the artist, that’s when I can sit back and say this is what I enjoy doing here and this is what I’m meant to do.”

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