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Hearts Apart educates spouses about hurricanes
Spouses of deployed Airmen listen during a briefing at the Hearts Apart hurricane preparation party May 30 at the Airman & Family Readiness Center. More than 60 family members attended the event which is aimed at providing the spouses with information to help them better prepare for a hurricane. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Andrea Luna)
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Hearts Apart educates spouses about hurricanes

Posted 6/3/2008   Updated 6/3/2008 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Angela Shepherd
1st SOW Public Affairs

6/3/2008 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Two things are certain at Hurlburt Field - deployments and hurricane season.

When the two collide, and the spouse of a deployed Airman is left to deal with both issues, it can make for a pretty stressful situation.

That's where Hurlburt Field's Hearts Apart program comes in. While their usual events focus on fun, relaxing times like spa night and bingo night, their most recent event - the hurricane preparation party - focused on information, education and preparation.

"Our goal with this event is to pump a lot of information to the spouses," said Tech. Sgt. Andrea Luna, Hearts Apart coordinator.

On May 30, more than 60 family members squeezed into the briefing room at the Airman & Family Readiness Center. Briefers from the 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron, the 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs Office and Eglin Pet Welfare provided critical information and answered a multitude of questions.

"This was a great turnout," said Capt. Charri Leonard, A&FRC flight commander. "A disaster always brings people together. It's our hope to bring them together before something happens so they have support during a time of need."

While some of the spouses in attendance have weathered several hurricanes, many have not. There were even several spouses in attendance who have never endured a hurricane or a deployment. So the night was catered to all levels of experience.

"I came here to learn," said Lori Cicchetti, one of the spouses in attendance. "I've been in this area for 20 years, but things change every year. So, this was definitely a very positive experience for me."

Aside from preparation, another underlying theme of the night was relying on the base to help out during a storm.

"You will not be forgotten just because your spouse is deployed," said Master Sgt. Frank Rodriguez, 1st SOCES first sergeant. "If you need help, the people on this base will not tell you no. Don't be afraid to ask."

To ensure the parents in attendance were able to focus their full attention on the information, the children were taken to the activities room where they drew pictures and wrote letters to send to their deployed parents.

Hearts Apart is a program geared toward the spouses of deployed Airmen. They host monthly events designed to help the spouses cope with the deployment and provide them with a network of other spouses who are experiencing the same situation.

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