Military News

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

MFRC hosts quarterly spouse orientation

by Airman Valerie Monroy
JBER Public Affairs

2/3/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Military and Family Readiness Centers hosted a quarterly Spouse Orientation at the Army Reserve Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Jan. 28.

The orientation is designed to expose military spouses to the opportunities, benefits, and resources available to them while at JBER.

The six-hour program involved a variety of briefings and activities to assure spouses of their importance to the military and to equip spouses with the tools needed to get accustomed to the new and unique environment that JBER offers, said Jeri Romesha, 673d Force Support Squadron work-life consultant with the MFRC.

During the program spouses learned about finance and how to read Leave and Earnings Statements, along with where to go when adjustments are needed.

Romesha explained the spouses were also informed about deployment readiness, and resiliency to prepare for times when deployments come up.

The orientation is very interactive and is one of best ways to get connected to both the base and other spouses, Romesha said.

In an effort to present advice from past experiences, a panel made up of knowledgeable military spouses answered questions. Both officer and enlisted spouses were a part of the panel, said Lisa Williams, 673d FSS work-life specialist.

"Seasoned military spouses came in and shared experiences and answered questions about coping with changing duty stations, deployments and how to handle social media while remembering operational security," Romesha said.

An information fair, with more than 30 agencies from around the community, followed the panel.

The fair is a way for spouses to learn about all the resources available and get answers directly from the source, said Romesha.

Participants were highly encouraged to visit as many booths as possible during the information fair. There were also questions posed to spouses concerning all of the information presented throughout the day.

Prizes were also given to those who visited the most booths and answered questions about information learned throughout the day.

"A lot of resources offered here have different names at other Air Force and Army installations which might make some spouses feel lost," Romesha said. "This program allows them to understand that even though some organization names might be different, the same resources are available."

JBER has a few unusual qualities; learning how to deal with darker times in the winter and wildlife encounters is vital for newcomers.

"It's Alaska and it's dark," said Airman 1st Class Rex Sharp, with the 176th Maintenance Squadron. "Learning how to cope and getting motivated to do things is great."

Rex attended the orientation with his wife Stephanie Sharp. He explained that he learned about a lot of different opportunities provided for outdoor recreation and it can help him and his family get out and enjoy their time here.

"One of the most important things I've learned from this particular orientation is all the resources," Rex said. "It gave my wife a feel for what to expect."

Rex continued that many people who join the military spend a lot of time on getting themselves ready for their new life but spouses don't always know how to do the same.

"I was prepared and ready to go but I didn't even give a second thought what she needed," Rex said. "It would have been a lot easier if we had done it sooner."

Stephanie explained that once her husband joined the military she felt like she was in a new world and in new, bigger family.

"Were no longer in the civilian life," Stephanie said. "We're part of the military family and we have a new life."

She said the orientation showed her the value of spouses and family throughout the military.

"There is a big emphasis on family and understanding that the foundation for [every service member] starts at home," said Stephanie. "My husband couldn't be the Airman he is today if his life at home was falling apart."

The quarterly spouse orientation is open to spouses from all military services on JBER.

The next orientation is scheduled for April 28. To register or for more information, please call the MFRC at 552-4943 or 384-1517.

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