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NEWS | Dec. 12, 2007

Phoenix Spouses assist other Air Force spouses in times of need

By Tech. Sgt. Julie Brannan Airman and Family Readiness Flight

Things always seem to happen when an active-duty member is deployed. And this statement became a reality for Mindy McCormick in March while her husband, Staff Sgt. Kevin McCormick, a 437th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, was deployed.

Mrs. McCormick had just been diagnosed with eight cancerous tumors in her lymph nodes that had to be removed immediately. She needed her support network, but didn't want to have her husband pulled away from his vital mission at the deployed location. A frantic call from her mother to the Airman and Family Readiness Flight and a quick-acting Phoenix Spouse allowed Mrs. McCormick to have her mother by her side during her surgery and for Sergeant McCormick to complete his deployment knowing his wife and children were well taken care of.

So what is a Phoenix Spouse?

Phoenix Spouse is an Air Mobility Command program to assist commanders with ensuring their members' families are taken care of from the moment they step on the base until they depart. This program is derived from the Navy Ombudsman program. The Air Force tested the program and encouraged bases to implement such a program on a voluntary basis.

In 2006, AMC made a decision to restructure and rename Phoenix Spouse. Phoenix Spouses promotes individual, family and unit readiness. They are a year-round support system that encourages peer-to-peer support. They meet the vital needs of spouses to have an informal sounding board through an informal network. They are a part of the leadership team in each unit.

Charleston AFB currently has 60 trained Phoenix Spouses, including Mrs. McCormick.

"I wanted to become a Phoenix Spouse because of the outstanding support I received during my time of need," said Mrs. McCormick. "I don't know what I would have done without this program and I want to help others,"

Now, 437 CES Phoenix Spouses Theresa Braga and Mari Bomboy, who were instrumental in working with the first sergeant and commander to grant base access to Mrs. McCormick's mother, and Mrs. McCormick work hand-in-hand to ensure other spouses in the unit are well cared for during family separations and at other times.

The benefits of this program are increased family preparedness, increased sense of unit caring, increased unit participation and improved quality of life for unit families.

For more information on the Phoenix Spouse program, contact your unit first sergeant.