By Tech. Sgt. Chyrece Campbell, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 30, 2007
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- "Honey, I have some news. I am deploying in September."
This phrase and others like it are commonly heard by spouses, family members and friends of military personnel.
With about 500 members from the 22nd Maintenance Group deployed for various taskings and temporary duty locations per year, the base chapel decided to sponsor a reunion and reintegration retreat Aug. 24-26 at Rock Springs 4-H Center in Junction City, approximately a two-hour drive north of the base.
"It's a priceless experience whether preparing for, returning from or currently on a deployment for families and military members to bond," said Heather Sekerak, wife of Maj. Edward Sekerak, 22nd Maintenance Operations Squadron commander.
"There was truly something for all ages," she said. "We are blessed in the MXG for Col. (Michael) Dillard (22nd MXG commander) and the chaplain leadership to offer such a morale boosting opportunity for the units and families."
Retreat members got to participate in activities such as horse back riding, archery, hiking and karaoke. The retreat also provided educational nature walks for children during which they learned about nature, forest creatures and survival tips.
Wing Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Mike Williams, and Chaplains (Capt.) Kevin Hudson and (Capt.) Travis Sears, along with the help of Reserve Chaplain (1st Lt.) Ben Haden, and Tech. Sgt. James McConnell, organized the end of summer event.
"For our first retreat, it went extremely well," said Chaplain Hudson.
More than 70 military members and their families participated in the 22nd MXG reunion and reintegration retreat. In addition to the group's members, those whom signed up for the previously cancelled pre-deployed retreats in July and August, were also able to attend.
"Retreat comments such as, 'This was the highlight of the summer,' made the long hours putting the event together all worth it," added Chaplain Hudson.
The 22nd MXG reunion and reintegration retreat was designed to help ease the stresses family members encounter when people return from deployments. Family members also learned to address the issues they encounter between deployments.
"We thought it would be fun to get away from the house and do something different," said Jennifer O'Hearn, wife of Staff Sgt. Michael O'Hearn, 22nd Maintenance Squadron.
"I am just getting back from a deployment earlier this year. To have this time to spend with my family is great," said Sergeant O'Hearn.
The purpose of these retreats is to help individuals, between deployments, build and maintain strong, satisfying and ready relationships in their marriages, families and units. In addition, they can help people network with members who can provide them support and help them remain strong and ready to perform the Air Force mission.
With the event being such a success, the chapel staff is in the process of sponsoring another retreat in the near future.
For more information, call the chapel at 759-1776.