Family Support Center takes care of deployed member’s families

Airman Thomas Trower

Cannon Airmen deployed to fight the war on terror and other conflicts around the world can rest easy knowing their families at Cannon can find support at the Family Support Center (FSC).
“The main objective of providing assistance to military families is to allow the military member to focus on the mission and know that help and support is in place for their families at home,” said Tech. Sgt. John Trippiedi, 27th Mission Support Squadron Family Readiness noncommissioned officer. “Family Readiness is all about making sure the military member focuses on the mission.”
“Any servicemember who is deployed for more than 30 days and has a spouse, mom, dad, son, daughter, or even a grandson or granddaughter can take advantage of several programs and support groups,” said Sgt. Trippiedi. Family readiness offers family members a number of programs to assist with the separation. Those programs include the Give Parents a Break, Car Care Because We Care, several communication programs and support groups.
The Give Parents a Break Program, hosted by the Child Development Center, provides free child care one Saturday per month at the CDC for children 6 months through 12 years, said Ms. Gloria Goff, 27th Services Squadron. Everything is paid for by the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS).
The Car Care Because We Care Program, sponsored by the AFAS, offers a free oil change, lube job and a safety check on the family’s primary vehicle while the servicemember is deployed. The work is performed at the Auto Skills Shop.
Communication between the family members is aided by providing two free 15-minute Morale Phone Calls per week. Family members can use government phone lines to talk from their homes directly with the deployed servicemember, said Sgt. Trippiedi. If the deployed area is equipped with videophones, families are allotted one free 30-minute videophone call each week.
E-mail Services are available to most deployed Airmen. If the family at home does not have access to a computer, the FSC Discovery Center has computers available for families to communicate online, Sgt. Trippiedi said.
The FSC also offers to take a photo of the family and transfer the image onto a pillowcase or shirt, said Sgt. Trippiedi. The family can then send the item to the deployed member. A 15-second digital video can also be recorded and sent via e-mail.
Once a month, the FSC sponsors an event for the Hearts Apart Program. Its main purpose is to provide a forum where families can interact with each other, base leadership, key spouses and FSC staff, Sgt. Trippiedi said. A different event is held each month.
Quarterly, a Deployed and Remote Family Meal is held at the Pecos Trail Dining Facility. Families are treated to an excellent meal, door prizes and movie passes. Wing, group and squadron leadership help with serving the meals and are also there to answer any questions or concerns that the families might have, said Sgt. Trippiedi. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Cannon Families, First Sergeant’s non-profit organization.
A support group called the Key Spouses provides families with a voice to the Airman’s unit commander and first sergeant. Each unit has at least one Key Spouse, said Sgt. Trippiedi. Key Spouses deal with a wide range of issues and they attend formal training, provided by the FSC, where they are briefed on the program and all available resources.
Many families utilize these programs. The average attendance for the Hearts Apart events and Deployed/Remote Family Meals is 20 to 25 percent of families who have a member deployed, said Sgt. Trippiedi. The morale call program’s average usage is 80 percent. Families can find out more about these programs when the military member attends the mandatory pre-deployment briefing.
Sgt. Trippiedi sends out a monthly newsletter “The Family Readiness Connection” directly to each of the deployed Airman’s spouse’s homes. The newsletter outlines all the programs and includes all the information on the upcoming events. Key Spouses make monthly phone calls to spouses and inform them of the FSC events and any special unit events or upcoming support group meetings.
“Military or civilian, married or single, everyone may need assistance sometime. In the military we are very fortunate to have the FSC, Life Skills, chaplains, first sergeants and commanders that are there to assist us in our personnel lives and military careers,” Sgt. Trippiedi said. Sometimes spouses are not fully aware of the support that is available. When the member is deployed or sent to a remote location it is the servicemember’s responsibility to make sure their families know what’s available to them.
For more information on these and other programs, contact the FSC at 784-4228.