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Spouses key to mission success

Two men wearing the Airman Battle Uniform speak to three women in different colored shirts.

Col. Gerald Donohue, 19th Airlift Wing commander, speaks to military spouses May 3, 2018, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Donohue and military spouses of Airman Leadership School attendees discussed the importance of supporting their Airmen as they take on more responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell)

A man in the Airman Battle Uniform looks into a stroller next to a woman in a red shirt looking in the stroller.

Col. Gerald Donohue, 19th Airlift Wing commander, greets a military spouse and her child, May 3, 2018, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Donohue and military spouses of Airman Leadership School attendees discussed the importance of supporting their Airmen as they take on more responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

Spouses of service members currently attending Airman Leadership School took their seat at the table May 3, 2018, and their importance to the Air Force mission was reaffirmed by Col. Gerald Donohue, 19th Airlift Wing commander.

“The transition from Airman to NCO is a pivotal transition in an Airman’s career,” Donohue said. “I want to make sure that transition happens for each of our Airmen and, more importantly, for each of their families. Your Airmen wouldn’t be successful in the Air Force without your support.”

The goal of including military spouses early on is to help them understand the military and how it functions as well to help them support their Airmen. By doing so, this early immersion also gives military spouses the support needed take care of their families and reach their greatest potential while their spouses are here or deployed.

“Our collective goal is to expose you to the resources your spouse will need as an NCO and remind them because in the middle of (a challenging situation), they might overlook a few key items – such as contacting a key spouse or that there’s a (particular) helping agency available,” Donohue said.

A spouse’s support is twofold with the first way being supportive of the service member.

“As they move from being responsible for only themselves to being responsible for others, my goal is to help you continue to help them succeed,” the commander said. “They are going to come home with struggles after a long week and they are going to get a phone call just after coming home because one of their Airman (needs their help) and they have to respond to that. You can be a great asset to them as they tackle that challenge.

Another way spouses can help is by being a part of support network for other women and men who are a part of the military simply because she or he chose to love and Airman.

“Sometimes, (the call may come) in the middle of the night and you not only can help your Airman handle a situation, but also that family in need,” Donohue said.

The role the spouses play is a powerful catalyst to ensuring Airmen will be able to find a healthy balance between taking care of themselves and their families as well as their Wingmen.

“(The Air Force) has really become inclusive; it makes me feel more involved and less like a number,” said Natalie Dove, spouse of Senior Airman Patrick Dove assigned to the 19th Maintenance Squadron. “I understand what my husband does a lot more now and it helps me talk to him about his day. I am able to give him another perspective which may help him make better decisions.”
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