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NEWS | Feb. 5, 2010

Who is your family?

By Lt. Col. Kevin W. Brooks 316th Force Support Squadron commander

Who is your family? A common answer would be your parents, spouse, children and others who share a common ancestry. That answer is accurate, but I believe it is limiting. My preferred definition expands "family" to include those with whom I share a solemn bond and common purpose. By that definition, all of those who answer to the title of Airman are part of my family. This is an important distinction as the Air Force has declared July 2009 to Jun 2010 to be the Year of the Air Force Family.

Most of those who read this have some type of family external to the Air Force. That is a good thing, however, if you are like me, your family in blue comes very close in importance.

That is where the Year of the Air Force Family comes into play. YoAFF is a focused effort to highlight the programs that benefit our AF family. Programs offered at Andrews are both broad to serve our diverse population, as well as specific for particular groups.

The YoAFF motto is, "Live well, Work together, Play often." As a result, numerous programs have been developed and implemented to ensure that all family members have a chance to do all three. The three elements are interwoven to form a tapestry of support.

One example of how this works can be drawn from the Joint Team Andrews approach to health and fitness. Many people do not like the thought of spending long hours in the gym or running. We do it as a part of a healthy lifestyle, but we do not always enjoy it. However, if you look hard enough, there are always ways to supplement your fitness routine and have fun. This past fall the 316th Force Support Squadron outdoor recreation center opened the first of two paintball venues, one of them with an arena-based game called "Speed-ball." Once it kicked-off, participants had a great time and got some exercise. The othervenue is scheduled to open this spring and offer "Woods ball." Together, they offer Joint Team Andrews members a great place to practice teamwork, play and get a little exercise.

Another example of "Live, Work, Play" is today's grand opening of the Community Airmen's Center. Located in the lobby of the former Community Activity Center, the CAC is a place where Airmen and Sailors, living in the dorms or off-base, can go to have some fun and relax with fellow servicemembers or enjoy some off time to themselves. It will be equipped with large screen TVs, computers for internet and gaming, video game systems such as Wii and Xbox 360, free WiFi and much more. The key to its success will be the active participation of the Airmen and Sailors.

Finally, I want to highlight a program that has long term benefits: Military Saves Week (part of the larger America Saves campaign). This is a financial readiness program designed to encourage, motivate and educate military members and their families to increase personal savings, decrease debt and develop proper financial fitness habits. If you are married or single, focusing on finances when at home allows our military members to better focus on the mission when deployed. This year, Military Saves Week is scheduled from Feb. 21 through 28, and during this time Airman & Family Readiness Center workers are dedicated to working with our military members and their families to help strengthen their commitment to be financially fit. Be on the lookout for upcoming information events during Military Saves Week.

All of these programs are designed to meet the needs of our Air Force family. No matter which definition you choose to subscribe to, you are included. Be an active family member and help make this a better family and a better Air Force overall.