JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
Deployment and extended time away from loved ones is a common part of military service that can be difficult, not only for the service member, but also for the spouse and family members that face the challenge of managing a household in their absence.
The Military & Family Readiness Center, however, offers a program to help families continue on called Hearts Apart.
Spouses and other family members of deployed military members attended a Hearts Apart event Oct. 27 at Eberle Park at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.
Every month the M&FRC hosts events for family members with a deployed spouse as part of the Hearts Apart program.
"This is a support group for spouses to network, get to know one another and so they have someone to lean on during this time," Master Sgt. Joe Ugarte, 802nd Force Support Squadron readiness NCO, said. "Sometimes spouses feel they are the only ones in their situation, or they are the only one facing challenges. It's just good for them to have a friend and know another spouse that can help relieve the stress of separation. Our mission is to let families know that we are here to support them and assist in any way that we can."
Families that attended October's Hearts Apart event played games, ate a picnic-style meal and carved pumpkins.
"Family members face many challenges when their loved ones deploy," Col. Michael Gimbrone, 502nd Security Forces and Logistics Support Group commander, said. "I met a spouse tonight who said this was the first time she had carved a pumpkin because her husband usually does it. So, she's had to learn how to carve a pumpkin, change light bulbs and do other things that she wouldn't have to do if her husband wasn't deployed."
However, to help families navigate this difficult time, and to reassure them of the support that was available, the message was clear.
"Thanks to everyone who came out, we truly appreciate it," Gimbrone said. "Military service is not an individual sport. It's a team sport, and a key member of the team is the families. You are an integral part of what the service members do. Those of us who serve in uniform couldn't do it without you."
The event was made possible by volunteers from the 502nd SFLSG, M&FRC, the Chapel, chapel youth group and Yellow Ribbon Spouses group.
For more information on all of the readiness programs available contact the M&FRC at 652-5321.
The next Hearts Apart event is slated to take place from 5-7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at the JBSA-Randolph M&FRC.