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Family readiness official seeks increased involvement

Involvement of spouses and youth are a key way to grow social networks and support initiatives in the base Family Program, officials say. (Photo by Captain Dale Greer, Kentucky Air National Guard)

Involvement of spouses and youth are a key way to grow social networks and support initiatives in the base Family Program, officials say. (Photo by Captain Dale Greer, Kentucky Air National Guard)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The wing's new Family Program coordinator wants to create a network of support for family members before, during and after deployments.

With an Air Expeditionary Force deployment on the horizon in March, he's seeking a few good family members to help lead the way.

"There are people in this wing who have been part of the military family for 30 years," said David Rooney, the new full-time family support coordinator. "There are young people who have seen their military parent go away for a significant period of time. Our goal at this point is to identify our key leaders and create opportunities for our members to support one another."

Mr. Rooney said he is available at all hours to help family members. He'll connect them with traditional support resources and provide a bridge during times of crisis. Yet, he believes a proactive, community-based approach is the best solution for wing members who understand the challenges they face as a result of military service.

"I want everyone in the wing to feel like they are part of a family," he said. "I want to create leadership opportunities for our members and harness the natural creativity and talent that we already have in our organization."

At the heart of Mr. Rooney's philosophy is his belief that all wing members benefit when unit spouses and children spend time together and network.

To that end, he is devoted to hosting quarterly events for military families. He's also strongly encouraging youth involvement. A youth council is being formed at the state level. He is looking for young teen family members to become charter members of a wing youth group that will send representatives to statewide events.

"At the heart of it all, we need our family members to understand the critical role they play in the wing's mission," said Mr. Rooney, who is a retired active-duty master sergeant. "We need to be there for our fellow family members whose military members are deployed. We need to develop relationships with one another in good times and bad and be there for each other all the time."

Mr. Rooney will be hosting his first family readiness group meeting today at the Family Readiness Center in the Base Annex. Follow-up meetings will be held monthly on a regular basis.

All interested family members are encouraged to participate in the meetings and quarterly events. He is seeking members with special and unique talents to organize social groups and support networking opportunities.

"Organic, grassroots initiatives are going to be more effective and better supported than anything we'll get out of a brochure," he said. "Everyone has something they can contribute for our community. My job is to support and help our family as we support and help each other."

Mr. Rooney can be reached during working hours at (502) 413-4647, on his cell at (502) 425-8653, and via e-mail at david.rooney@ang.af.mil.