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Heart Link educates spouses

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- Col. Paul Bugenske, 17th Mission Support Group Commander, explains the story behind Challenge Coins to Heart Link members March 29. Heart Link is an Air Force spouse orientation program designed to strengthen families and enhance mission readiness for all military services. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Michael Smith)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- Col. Paul Bugenske, 17th Mission Support Group Commander, explains the story behind Challenge Coins to Heart Link members March 29. Heart Link is an Air Force spouse orientation program designed to strengthen families and enhance mission readiness for all military services. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Michael Smith)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The Event Center was filled with activity March 29 as the Heart Link event got underway.

Heart Link is an Air Force spouse orientation program designed to strengthen Air Force families and enhance mission readiness. The overall objectives of the program are to increase retention of Air Force members by increasing spouse awareness of the Air Force, and to inform spouses on the services available to them.

With the programs theme being "The Air Force Spouse is the Heart of the Team", Heart Link is designed to help spouses realize their importance in maintaining the Air Force family and help them understand the value of their input regarding the active duty member's work life.

"The overall program goal is to ensure that spouses are aware of their importance to the
Air Force and feel as though they are a part of the Air Force team," said Pamela Flemions, Airman and Family Readiness Center, Community Readiness Consultant. "Spouses play an important goal in re-enlistment decisions, therefore impacting retention. The spouse is often the key to personal preparedness and mission effectiveness, and the family's lifeblood during deployments and separations. There are strong military families and enhanced mission readiness where the 'heart-link' is solid."

Geared towards people who have been spouses for five years or less, the program orients them on the details of how the service works and how their sponsors participate in fulfilling the Air Force mission.

The program offers an organized collection of interactive briefings, panels, games, and activities designed to engage the spouses as they learn about the Air Force.

"The majority of spouses said meeting other spouses was one of the most valuable aspects of the program as well as learning about all the opportunities, benefits, and services available," Flemions said.

Each spouse is presented with a Heart Link coin to symbolize the spouse as the heart of the "team". The team is made up of the sponsors, families, leadership, and everyone assigned to the units and support agencies in MAJCOM.

"The spouse is the link to the family no matter where the sponsor may be deployed," Flemions said.

The quarterly event provides free childcare contingent on availability and guidance, and breakfast and lunch are provided. All services are encouraged to attend.

For more information call (325) 654-3893