There to lend a helping hand: Base clubs make AF life easier for spouses

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Driving around Seymour Johnson, it's not unusual to see a vehicle with a sticker that says, "Air Force wife - toughest job in the Air Force."

With all the separations created by deployments, remote tours and TDYs, and the constant fear that their loved one may not come home, it's easy to understand how that job can be so tough.
Fortunately, there's a support system built in right here on base to support these spouses during their time of separation.

The Enlisted Spouses' Club and the Officer and Civilian Spouses' Club exist to help their fellow spouses cope with the hard times that come with being a military spouse. Beyond that, they exist as a network of friends, to help get the spouses out of their houses and involved with the base and community.

"The main goal of both the ESC and the OCSC is to support the enlisted, officer and civilian spouses at Seymour Johnson, whether they're men, women, active duty, dependents or reservists," said Lori Hornback, ESC president. "We want to mentor them, and help them grow and understand military life so they don't have a negative attitude about the Air Force."

Aside from monthly meetings that bring members of each club together, both clubs participate in fundraisers and volunteer projects throughout the year.
One project the ESC has undertaken is SWIFT - Spouses Welcoming in Families Together.

"SWIFT is our 'welcome wagon' program," Mrs. Hornback said. "We started this program because we want to reach out and make our newest enlisted spouses feel welcome and make their move to Seymour Johnson more pleasant."

The program provides new spouses with gift baskets, packed and supplied by ESC members, and an information packet on the ESC.

The OCSC takes pride in themselves for being big contributors to the base and local community. Last year, they awarded $5,000 in scholarships to local high school seniors and military spouses through their scholarship program. Additionally, they donated close to $5,000 to various base and downtown organizations.

The OCSC isn't alone in running a scholarship program. The ESC has also run one in years past. Next year, however, they plan to team up and offer the Spouses Scholarship program.

The two clubs also pair up for another joint venture: the thrift store.

Located in a small brick building across from the enlisted club, members of the ESC and the OCSC meet there weekly to collect items from members of the Seymour community to consign to any member of Seymour. Items brought to the store are priced, tagged, displayed and sold by the clubs' volunteers. People get 70 percent of the amount an item is sold for, and the clubs keep the remaining 30 percent. These funds are used for the various charities the clubs support.

Regardless of the project being done, members of both clubs agree that a certain sense of accomplishment comes along with helping other spouses.

"It's a tremendous privilege to be able to improve the quality of spouse life on base," said Molly Holden, a board member with the OCSC.

Mrs. Hornback sees it as an honor.

"This club has been around for 50 years. It's helped me out, and it means a lot that I now have an opportunity to give back."

For more information on the ESC, visit http://www.orgsites.com/nc/sjafbenlistedspousesclub. For more information on the OCSC, call 759-0707.