At Cannon Air Force Base, it’s also about the family

By Eric Butler

Editor’s note: This is the 16th in a series of United Way agency profiles that began last month.

Empathy from strangers never seems to be in short supply for spouses of Cannon Air Force Base personnel who have been sent away.
But understanding from those in the same situation can be a really welcome moment.
Friends of Cannon Families seeks to provide this kind of relief through the Deployed Spouses Meal; or, as organizers like to call it, “Dinner and a Movie.”
Spouses of military members are invited to a meal at the Pecos Trail restaurant on base and then given tickets to a movie that can be used that night or on a future occasion.
“It’s hard and I’m a student as well. I have all these classes to fight with as well as dealing with my husband not being here and my kids are trying to stampede all over me,” said Lenore Day, 28, whose husband Aron is deployed.
“The pain subsides,” Day said. “And my husband got a laptop before he left and we both got PC cameras, so that has made it a lot easier than the last time he left.”
The quarterly get togethers at the Deployed Spouses Meal also helps.
“I think they’re great. It’s time where we actually feel like someone is actually thinking about us — that we’re not alone,” Day said.
“We have a lot to talk about. Someone I’ve never met before I can hold a conversation with for an hour.”
Another major function of the Friends of Cannon Families is to provide stop-gap funds to military men and women, according to Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Simonton.
“Some airmen may show up here and their pay might be messed up and they have no money. We work with the first sergeants; they’ll come to us and say ‘Hey, can you help us out?’,” said Simonton, who is chairman for the Friends of Cannon Families.
“It may be something like someone will come in on the weekend and they need some money for some food.”
Most of the group’s funds are used during the holidays as around $35 to $50 per family is given to those in need.
“They go over to the commissary and buy some food with it. It’s just something to make sure they have a little nicer holiday,” Simonton said.
Throughout the year, an average of 150 people are assisted through the dispersal of emergency funds.
As for the Deployed Spouses Meal, as many as 100 people may show up for that — as was the case last May.
“It’s just kind of showing support, showing that the base doesn’t forget about you and your family members just because your spouse is gone,” Simonton said.
“The Air Force isn’t just about the one who wears the uniform, it’s about the family.”