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Military spouses - a key part of our community

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- In honor of Military Spouse Month, I would like to take a moment to thank the military spouse volunteers of Vandenberg.

During my career, I have been assigned to 10 different bases, and I can tell you that Vandenberg has the strongest sense of community I have ever seen. I credit much of that to our military spouse volunteers who provide their heart and soul. Military spouses sacrifice a lot to follow us around the country and the world. They give up their homes, careers, and the stability associated with staying in one place. In return, they have to learn how to plug into each new community to find new jobs, continue their own education, and support their families. In addition to all that, many still find time to be active in the community by helping other families, the base community and other spouses.

Military spouses help families in so many ways. It can be the little things such as dinners for new parents, babysitting for deployed spouses, or bringing a meal to a potluck to celebrate a key milestone. Military spouses also come together and provide even greater support.  At the schools, they volunteer as crossing guards, assist in the classrooms and run the Parent-Teacher Association.  The PTA at Crestview Elementary School provides a sense of community and additional enrichment by raising money each year to help pay for field trips, after school clubs, educational assemblies and host family events like the Fall Festival, 'Muffins with Mom' and 'Donuts with Dad'. The most well-known military spouse effort is the Key Spouse Program. This program assists family members left behind when the active duty member is deployed. They link deployed family members to base support activities and provide a sympathetic ear during those difficult times

Military spouses help our base community. There are some functions on base that would not exist without volunteers, many of them are military spouses. The Vandenberg Thrift Shop and the Airman's Attic are two examples. The Thrift Shop provides a key recycling service by providing an opportunity for your old stuff to find a new home.  Volunteers, many of whom are spouses of retirees, sort through donations, help customers with consignments, and connect people with the things they need. The funds from those sales support many base activities such as holiday parties, the Air Force Ball, the Dining Out, and Airman's Attic. The Airman's Attic assists Airmen by providing free items to active duty E-6s and below. Spouse volunteers assist the Top Three in running this activity.

Finally, military spouses help other spouses. No matter how many moves, there is still that initial isolation as we build those new social connections. For the military members, that is eased by the built-in work environment. Spouses, especially those who do not work outside the home, have a more difficult transition. Particularly, after the first move away from childhood homes and the extended network they grew up with. Military spouses in our community reach out in multiple ways through squadron functions, base events, and private organizations. One of those organizations is the Vandenberg Spouses' Club. Led and consisting of spouses from across the base and local communities, the VSC serves a social and financial support function. Throughout the year, they raise funds to support the community through college-bound and youth sports scholarships. In addition, they build personal connections by hosting social functions and mini-clubs to bring spouses together.

Over the last three years, I have had the privilege of watching an amazing group of military spouses support this community. They give up so much to follow us around the country and the world. At the same time, they support our families, our base, and each other.  As I look around Vandenberg, I am humbled by how much our spouses do to maintain the quality of life we and our families enjoy. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for being involved and making a difference.