News>Class for spouses adds tour of base, community
Tonya Hutchison, wife of 78th ABW Command Chief MSgt. Harold "Buddy" Hutchison and Sharon Buhler, wife of Col. Carl Buhler, 78th ABW commander, taste samples during a stop at Lane Packing in Fort Valley. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp
11/30/2009 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Airman & Family Readiness Center's popular Heart Link class introduces newlywed spouses of Airmen to the ways of the Air Force, but now the class is getting a significant new twist.
Previously the class had been comprised of a few hours of classroom learning - among other things - about the services available at Robins for the families of Airmen.
But at the suggestion of 78th Air Base Wing's new commander, Col. Carl Buhler, the Heart Link class is now adding a tour of the base and community. Last Friday's class was the first to take the tour, going by bus to the flightline before heading out for a tour of the surrounding area.
"Col. Buhler wanted to change a little bit about the way we do things so that we can make the spouses feel more included," said Stuart Bapties, who teaches the class. "We wanted to show them what their spouses do on a daily basis, and how their spouses fit into the Team Robins concept."
The class is intended for spouses who have been married to Airmen for less than five years, but spouses who have been around longer also attend the class to help introduce the newer spouses to the Air Force. About a dozen spouses were in the class last week.
Lisa LaFan, married to Airman 1st Class Jessie LeFan for a year and half, found the class helpful. "I found out about a lot of things I didn't know about, like the parenting classes," she said.
Chief Master Sgt. Harold Hutchison, command chief of the 78th Air Base Wing, told them that Heart Link is significant to the wing, and he welcomed feedback on how to make it better.
"This is a very important program to help you along the way, and to prepare you and your family for military life," he said.
After having a box lunch, they were taken by bus for a tour of the flightline, which included visits to the F-15 Eagle and C-5 Galaxy areas, where they were briefed by leaders in those areas on the work done there.
Then they took a tour of the community, starting with a stop at the E.L. Greenway Welcome Center where they were joined by Convention and Visitors Bureau representatives Mary Therese Tebbe and Marsha Buzzell.
Tebbe and Buzzell narrated the rest of the tour as the group visited important locations around town, including City Hall, shopping areas and the courthouse annex. They also visited Lane Packing, a peach-processing facility and restaurant in Peach County, and drove through downtown Perry. The tour ended at Chef Audrey's Bistro on Russell Parkway, where they had dessert.
"A lot of times when spouses come to a base like this, it takes them a little while to get out in the community and meet people, so we wanted to show them what the community has to offer," Bapties said.
The Heart Link class is held every three months. Attendees are given a bag that contains such items as a booklet of Air Force acronyms, and listings of other classes and services available to families of Airmen. Those interested in signing up for the class can call the Airman & Family Readiness Center at 926-1256.