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Home : News : News
NEWS | Sept. 5, 2008

Heartlink more widely available

By Meredith Canales 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

The Airman and Family Readiness Flight is trying something new with their Heartlink classes for new spouses: evening sessions. The first evening session was Aug. 21 with a higher turnout than usual.

"Normally it's held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.," said Terryca Fuller, who runs the program. "We're trying to do something different this time. From comments we've had in the past, some people say they can only come in the evening. This means we've reduced the session from five hours to three, so we'll be hustling."

The decision to move the class to the evening time slot was apparently a good one. Facilitator Jose Martinez remarked upon the greatly increased attendance at the beginning of the very full class.

The evening began with a speech by 37th Training Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Len Patrick, who told the spouses they were vital to the Air Force mission. His wife, Lynne Patrick, then got up to share her experiences being a military spouse.

"I like to think I bleed blue," she said with a smile. "I was born into the Air Force, I married into the Air Force and I work in civil service for the Air Force, so I know where you are now."

Above all, said Mrs. Patrick, the spouses should understand the importance of their role.

"You can't be shy. There are functions, groups to join. You are needed, and you are the voices of what's out there for future spouses," she said. "There are spouses all over who are willing to help you and guide you to what you need, including me. You can e-mail me or call me, and if I can't get what you need, we'll find someone who can."

Among the attendees was Angela Ramirez, wife of Master Sgt. Ricardo Ramirez, 320th Training Squadron.

"We just got married Dec. 22," she said. "I'm new to all of this. We live off base, so I'm not really involved with base life all that much. My husband told me about this class, and I thought I could come here and learn about various benefits and services and how to use them. I'd like to know who the people are I can talk to to figure that stuff out."

During his opening speech, General Patrick asked the spouses why they were there. Choruses of answers rang through the room, among them the desire to learn more about the military, the need to learn about spouse benefits and the hope for camaraderie with other military spouses.

While the class was about learning, Ms. Fuller made sure the spouses had some time to make friends as well. Dinner was served, and conversation was heard throughout the room. The evening included games to help learn about the Air Force, various videos and a scavenger hunt. The spouses departed more knowledgeable than when they arrived and managed to make friends and have fun along the way.

"If I leave you with one thing, I leave you with this," said Mrs. Patrick during her question and answer session. "If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right."

Heartlink classes are held quarterly. For information on scheduling, call the AFRF at 671-3722.