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Spouses share survival tips
By Kelly Deichert, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published February 16, 2012
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Zip-closed bags, the "OK" sign and couples' retreats are just a few of the tools women use to survive as military spouses. Five Maxwell-Gunter wives shared words of wisdom during a Heart Link spouses orientation Feb. 10 at the Airman and Family Readiness Center.
The discussion covered the gamut of experiences, including frequent moves, formal events and supporting their Air Force spouses.
After moving every couple of years for 22 years, Kim Milner, key spouse for the 42nd Mission Support Group, has learned a lesson or two about permanent changes of station. For example, she seals her silverware tray in a large plastic zip-closed bag before the movers show up.
"When you get to the next place, they're clean and won't get lost," she said.
She also recommended researching the new location before moving.
Milner told the spouses she uses guarded optimism when PCSing, knowing no duty location is as great or as miserable as she thinks it is before moving. "I don't really get my hopes up on anything until I'm standing on soil," she said.
Pam Richardson, key spouse for the Holm Center, encouraged the spouses to get involved each time they move.
"You are not alone, and there are a lot of other people going through what you're going through," she said.
Another trick Milner learned comes in handy at formal dinners. She said to make the "OK" sign with your fingers. On the left hand, it looks like a lowercase "b" and on the right a lowercase "d." That's how she remembers bread dish on the left, drinks to the right.
"If you're husband is like mine, he'll eat your bread anyway," said Melissa Davis, key spouse for the 42nd Communication Squadron.
She offered her own advice, saying when it comes to using silverware, start with the utensils on the outside and move in.
Sandi Killough, wife of the 42nd Air Base Wing commander, said the Airman and Family Readiness Center is an important resource for all spouses, especially during deployments.
"(The support) is so much more than you would ever see in the civilian community," she said.
The spouses told the audience to be realistic and know something will go wrong during a deployment, whether it is a trip to the emergency room, a leaky pipe or a flat tire.
"But as long as you have a support system, you can get through anything," Davis said.
Spending time together as a couple, maybe even going on a couple's retreat, is important for reintegration.
"Once you reconnect, the process is easier for the family," said Verenice Castillo, key spouse for the 42nd Security Forces Squadron.
Proud to be an Air Force wife
For these women, the challenges of Air Force spouse have enriched their lives.
"(The Air Force) has meant the world to us," Killough said. "It is a great way of life."
She told the spouses to remain committed to supporting their military spouses. "You and your spouse are a team. ... You're working together."
Richardson said after 20 years of marriage, "Every one of the challenges make us that much stronger, and stronger as a couple as well."
The support of her spouse has been important to Davis as well. "There's a lot of stuff going on, but as long as we have each other's back, we'll get through."