Ellsworth AFB Family Support Services
Military families often contend with challenges civilians never have to face. Deployments, frequent moves, and remote tours of duty all make it difficult to establish a regular routine. Add intangibles such as an unfamiliar climate (especially if you’ve just arrived to Ellsworth AFB from Florida or Hawaii) and you’ve got a recipe for stress and anxiety. Fortunately, Ellsworth Air Force Base is committed to helping foster a sense of community and has developed various programs to assist spouses and children of airmen and airwomen.
The Air Force Aid Society (AFAS), in conjunction with the Ellsworth Child Development Center and Youth Center, funded and created the Give Parents a Break (GPAB) program. GPAB offers free child care to parents one day a month (usually on the fourth Saturday); there are no restrictions on how the four-hour block of time is used, so you are free to plan a date night, go shopping, or simply catch up on laundry. To utilize the service, you’ll need a referral certificate from a Child Development Center or Youth Center director, squadron commander or first sergeant, chaplain, doctor, Family Advocacy staff member, or Airman & Family Readiness Center employee. The program is open to children aged six weeks to 12 years old; monthly sessions vary based on base community needs, and are most popular during periods of deployment. GPAB makes an effort to share events and photos on their social media platforms and will often collect artwork the kids have created and send it to parents who are deployed.
Key Spouses is a program geared toward newly arrived military spouses and families. It provides a vital communication and support link between commanders and spouses by sharing information and resources with spouses of enlisted personnel. Run by volunteers, the group’s activities include welcoming new families and spouses, building and fostering support systems for families, establishing and maintaining contact with spouses and families, answering their questions, and providing information on base and community resources. During periods of deployment, the Key Spouses relay information back and forth, ensuring both service men and women and their spouses are kept in the loop. Often, people who took advantage of the program when they were new to Ellsworth end up volunteering their time, joining Key Spouses themselves and drawing upon their own experiences to assist others new to the area.
Deployed spouses can take advantage of a free oil/filter change, lubrication, and vehicle safety check courtesy of the Air Force Aid Society at the Ellsworth AFB Auto Skills Center. You’ll need to obtain a voucher from the Airman & Family Readiness Center by presenting a copy of your sponsor’s TDY/Remote PCS orders to schedule an appointment. Eligibility is limited to once per deployment/TDY and twice per calendar year for spouses who are serving remote tours.
The Airman & Family Readiness Center hosts a variety of free monthly activities for family members of deployed servicemen and women. Events take place throughout the area; contact the Readiness NCO at (605) 385-6377 for a current schedule.
A new assignment is always stressful, but with the help of these resources, you’ll find dedicated individuals whose goal is to make you feel welcome and remind you that you are not alone. Learn more about the various family support services available to you here.