ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
Paying bills, picking up the children after school, managing household repairs and similar daily jobs can become mundane for a married couple. Their lives are intertwined as they face each day together.
All of this changes with a deployment. A constant figure in the household is now not present; the support that was there fades.
Luckily, the Airman and Family Readiness Center at Ellsworth Air Force Base is here to help during times like this with programs like Hearts apart.
The Hearts Apart program supports families facing an upcoming deployment, a current one or in the reintegration portion of returning home, by allowing them to connect with each other during deployments cycles.
“Hearts Apart is an opportunity for deployed families to come out and spend some time together,” said Tech. Sgt. Todd Borrego, the 28th Force Support Squadron readiness noncommissioned officer in charge of the A&FRC. “It allows the families to network, get out of the house and see some of the resources we offer here at the A&FRC. Essentially, they get a break to enjoy themselves.”
The A&FRC hosted a Hearts Apart event at the Elks Theater in Rapid City, March 2 that included a free dinner and movie, but it is the friendships that mean the most.
“It gives the spouses and families left behind the opportunity to get that support system,” said Brandy Wyatt, the 28th FSS chief of the A&FRC. “A lot of times, especially in the winter, they stay home all day. This gives them the chance to get out and meet other people who are going through the exact same thing.”
Borrego explained when he deployed in 2015, his family participated in the program and it gave him peace of mind knowing there were people who understood and supported his family while he was away.
Families are invited out to relax for an evening once a quarter. The events vary depending on the season. For example, pool parties in the summer and a train ride in Hill City with Santa Claus during December.
For more information about the resources available to families, contact the A&FRC at (605) 385-4663.