The Spouse Space at Vance Air Force Base opened Wednesday, and will provide spouses of service members with a location on the base where they can connect with others in a similar situation.
Meg Hewes and Anne Parker, spouses of Vance personnel, said the idea came about after hearing the needs of other spouses on the base. They found that people were looking for a space to call their own, which they could utilize on a regular basis. They went to the Vance Military and Family Readiness Center and asked for help finding a space. The two rooms created are in a building that belongs to the base’s chaplains, but they offered the two rooms that became the Vance Spouse Space.
What was created were two rooms to provide Vance spouses a space to connect with one another and serve as a location for people to work and study. One room features seating for around 12 that has an espresso machine, coffee machine, snacks and office supplies. The other room will serve as a conference room, which can be reserved for someone needing to host a meeting.
Hewes said they eventually will add an ability to host events such as various classes and seminars. She said there has been strong support from about 15 other spouses on the base, as well as the Air Force Association, United Service Organizations and Vance Spouses Club.
Parker said the opening of the space was important to give as much support to Vance spouses as they need.
“We think it’s very important. For Vance in particular, right now our event center isn’t open, and a coffee shop just opened,” Parker said. “There’s just not a meeting space here. The spaces are all for service members. But spouses live here, they work here, they support, they volunteer, so this space just gives them an area where they can do those kinds of things.”
Hewes said just within their squadron, about 60% of the spouses work or study remotely. She said the lack of connection can bring about mental health concerns.
“We’re hoping that this space, even if you’re just working, that you get that connection and that support,” Hewes said.
The Vance Spouse Space will make it easier when service members and their families make the move to Enid to be at the base. Parker said it is common that within a week of moving to Vance, a service member may be away from the home for as long as a month or two. She said having a place for spouses to go during that time will provide a lot of support.
“Spouses, if they’re not already connected, I hear stories about people just staying in their house for that month or two months,” Parker said. “This gives them a place that they can come to. When I get to a base, even as a very seasoned spouse, it takes me months to feel comfortable walking into any of these buildings before I feel like I have any community in these spaces because I have to work into the active-duty system. This is different. The minute they get to base, they can come, start meeting people and making connections.”
Col. Jay Johnson, commander of the 71st Flying Wing at Vance, said the spouse space came together in a short period of time.
“Most who know me in this room know I’m rarely at a loss for words, but right now I am,” Johnson said. “As I look around and look at my leadership team here that’s in uniform, like step up your game, come on. We gave them a month and nothing and they created this. Not just the spaces, they strengthened their community in just a month. It’s absolutely incredible.”
Kristen Johnson, Johnson’s wife, said the spouse space was an example of the Vance and Enid communities coming together.
“This spouse space isn’t just about these two rooms, it’s so much more than that,” she said. “You can see the whole potential of the spouse space. The potential to reach spouses, our Vance and Enid communities, our Air Force and Space Force communities on so many levels.”
(c) 2022 the Enid News & Eagle
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.