SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Military life can be stressful for families. Long hours, shift work, moving every few years, temporary duty assignments and deployments can all take a toll on family life.
To help alleviate some of the stress from a deployment, the Air Force has created a new program for Airmen, and their families, who have deployed during fiscal year 2015 (Oct. 1 through Sept. 30) called Recharge for Resiliency.
"The R4R program is designed for deployed families," said Karen Draper, Schriever Sustainment Service flight chief. "It's meant to give the families the opportunity to reconnect with each other or take a break because [deployment] is stressful."
To be eligible to participate the following conditions must be met: deployment, temporary duty assignment of 30 days or more or 365-permanent change of station in support of an active operation, or dependent restricted assignment, six months or more, must have occurred beginning on or after Oct. 1, 2014. Eligible participants include: active duty members and their families; deployed Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and Department of Defense civilians and their families; Air Force Wounded Warrior members and their families; families of fallen warriors with DOD identification cards; and Army, Navy or Marine active duty members, and their families, officially assigned to a tenant organization hosted on an active Air Force base where the Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs are operated by Air Force Force Support Squadrons.
Draper said because the funds for this program were specifically allocated, the rules governing participation and programming are strictly enforced.
"There are certain things we can't do," Draper said. "We can't do entertainment, like football tickets, and it's very specific for family members. You can't have the neighborhood kids go [with you]. Some programs in the past have had a little bit of flexibility that you could, but...you can't bring three friends or anything like that."
Each Air Force base was given a specific amount of money for R4R, based on base population. Because Schriever is a smaller base, Draper reached out to the U.S. Air Force Academy to form a partnership for the program.
"We have gone ahead and partnered with USAFA so we can offer a broader range of programs and we're splitting costs between the two bases," she said.
This partnership also helps ensure enough participation to prevent event cancellation, said Charles Alfultis, U.S. Air Force Academy Outdoor Recreation Center manager.
"[Partnering with Schriever] gives us the opportunity to host programs without being cancelled," he said. "It increases participation to where we can have an event."
A number of the events planned thus far will take place at USAFA, such as golf lessons, art classes and a family camping event.
"We have a little bit of everything, we've tried to look at a variety of things," Draper said.
Deployed Airmen, or their family members, interested in participating first need to get a letter from their First Sergeant certifying they are eligible for the program. Draper said she has already sent a template of the letter to all Schriever First Sergeants, so members only need to ask their First Sergeant for the letter, fill out the information and bring it with them when they register for events.
"Early registration is important," Alfultis said. "It gives us an opportunity to know if a program is going to have enough participation. If they wait until the last minute [the program might be cancelled]."
Registration can be done at either the Schriever or USAFA Outdoor Recreation facilities. Once the reservation and payment, if necessary, are complete an email will be sent to the member. The email serves as both a receipt and ticket for the event, so it will need to be brought for admittance to the event.
"The Academy has been awesome to step up and help us with this [program]," Draper said. "If someone lives in that area, or happens to be over there, they can go to Outdoor Rec at the Academy with their letter and sign up right there."
Alfultis said programs like R4R are important because it provides a low-cost opportunity to relax, especially for families of deployed members.
"[R4R] is very important, especially for dependents and the people left behind while the spouse is deployed," he said. "The program gives the opportunity to participate in low-cost recreation programs. It's a good opportunity to relax and relieve stress while the spouse is away."
For more information, email Draper at firstname.lastname@example.org