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News > New women’s program goes beyond being a support group
New women’s program goes beyond being a support group

Posted 1/14/2011   Updated 1/14/2011 Email story   Print story


by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

1/14/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Many military wives have lots of things in common. For example, they have to deal with the stressors of their husbands deploying or going TDY for extended periods of time and raising a family on their own for a while. Conversely, many female active duty members also share several of these struggles as they move from base to base and are faced with deployments.

A new women's group, called "Married to the Military - Mission Possible: Building Strong Family Bonds and Community Connections" aims to bring these women together to not only discuss some of their concerns and meet other spouses and active duty members, but also to educate them on where to find resources in times of need.

The new program, made possible by a grant awarded to Domestic Violence Service Network (DVSN) in collaboration with Hanscom's Family Advocacy Program (FAP) and The Elliot Center, will begin on Jan. 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Minuteman Club.

The group will meet each Thursday for five weeks and attendees will receive information and discuss their experiences on a variety of topics, including parenting a military child, getting to know the community, financial issues, coping strategies, post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and more.

Both Capt. Lisa Hoyt and Matt Nicoli from FAP have been working with the outside agencies and are excited about the possibilities of the new group.

"We're bringing things all together with this group," said Mr. Nicoli, family advocacy intervention specialist. "I've talked to people throughout the Hanscom community and they have voiced a desire for something like this, and there has been positive feedback from people about this group."

Organizers say the initial idea stemmed from a women's empowerment group meeting that took place more than a year ago. Although the meeting was geared more toward empowering women to stand up to domestic violence, several attendees suggested another group be formed to focus on the many issues military families must deal with.

From there, FAP began working with DVSN and The Elliot Center to provide this need.

During the five sessions, daycare will be provided by volunteers from the Child Development Center and snacks and drinks will also be available.

Both representatives from Hanscom, as well as other representatives from throughout the region will speak to the group on a variety of topics and inform attendees on where to go for more information. For example, the second session on Jan. 27 will focus on community and the Bedford chief of police will be one of the community panel members.

Representatives from the local schools, chapel, Airman and Family Readiness Center, legal office and finance will also attend and offer information and advice.

"Statistics show that the more stable the family is at home, the more likely the military members will be better able to perform his or her duties at work," said Captain Hoyt, chief of FAP. "We hope this group will help create more stability and cohesion in military families."

The group will be open to active duty members, spouses, family members and significant others from every branch of the military. Women from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, Fort Devens and the Coast Guard are all invited.

"When newcomers arrive, they often receive a lot of this same information, but it may be overwhelming at the time," said Mr. Nicoli. "Those that attend the Mission Possible group can learn more about the military, Hanscom and the surrounding communities and have a face to face meeting with someone rather than just seeing a brochure, flyer or website."

The other aspect of the group is to build relationships.

"The idea for this group came about after we noticed some trends," said Captain Hoyt. "There is still a need for people to connect with others who are experiencing similar situations as them."

If the partners receive more grant money, the hope is the group will continue to meet throughout the year.

"We want to keep this going, if possible," Captain Hoyt said. "At the end of the last session, we will ask attendees for their feedback and suggestions on future topics."

Organizers are also open to other suggestions.

"If we receive feedback from the group that there is a desire to invite military husbands to the table, we will look into doing that and possibly set up a group for men and couples," said Mr. Nicoli. "If the group members want to change the meeting times to the evening, we can look at that, too."

The cost to attend Mission Possible is free. Those interested must sign up in advance, but there is no need to attend every session.

"If you show up on January 20 and realize you only want to attend the session on pre and post deployment related challenges, then you're free to do so," said Captain Hoyt. "We want to keep attendance at a manageable size and also know how many child care workers to have on hand and be sure to have enough refreshments."

Anyone interested in attending Married to the Military - Mission Possible: Building Strong Family Bonds and Community Connection may sign up by contacting FAP at 781-377-4617 or e-mailing matthew.nicoli@hanscom.af.mil.

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