Nellis spouses graduate from Air Force 101

  • Published
  • By Lila Edwards
  • Nellis Public Affairs
They listened, they learned and they graduated with high honors. 

Eighteen military spouses, some very new and some veterans to the military, were invited to attend Heart-Link -- an Air Force 101 course designed to educate family members on the mission of the Air Force -- a five-hour orientation on the mission of Nellis armed with mountains of information on how to survive and thrive in the military world. 

The course included participation from Col. Michael Bartley, 99th Air Base Wing commander, most of the wing's staff agencies, and staff members of the Airman and Family Readiness Center. 

Colonel Bartley opened the day's information course with an in-depth overview of the structure of Nellis and its relationship to their own lives while living in a military community. 

"My purpose was to help shed light on those things that matter most to them," said Colonel Bartley. "Explaining to them why Nellis is considered the showcase of the Air Force because of the diversity of the missions is an important aspect of their education process. It will help them better understand the complexities of a military community." 

The commander also opened up a discussion period after the overview and talked with several guests on the privatization of military housing and the future construction soon beginning on several areas of housing presently on, or near, the installation. 

"We are looking out for our troops and their families, and one of the best ways is to provide improved housing," he said. 

Following the commander's overview, a segment of the course titled "You and the Air Force; where you fit in" began. Protocol, personnel, finance, commissary and BX representatives provided the guests an insight on how their agencies can impact them and help them during their time at Nellis. 

Lunchtime provided the guests an opportunity to share the experience, and to continue learning more about their roles as spouses within the military world. As they formally introduced themselves to other guests, one spouse introduced herself as a relatively new spouse--she had been married 45 days, and arrived to Nellis just 14 days prior to the Air Force 101 course. 

Ambrosia Banda, wife of Airman 1st Class Steven Banda, 57th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, is presently living in the temporary lodging facility. She said she noticed a newspaper, picked it up and found a telephone number to the enlisted spouses club. She called, and the president emphatically told her she needed to find her way to the A&FRC -- she did, and said it changed her whole way of thinking about her situation as a military spouse. 

"I was so lonely and a little scared. I come from a very small town where my husband was my high school sweetheart. This is my first time away from my family, and things were overwhelming me," said Mrs. Banda. 

"This is so totally amazing. I feel like I'm in a miniature town -- the base, I mean -- that fits into the fringes of Las Vegas. It's like a big family. I'm beginning to feel like I've just been given a whole bunch of sisters. I guess we really are 'sisters of the Air Force' now. I need to know as much as I can because it has been my husband's dream to join the Air Force. And here we are now. I know we'll never be without friends or help if we need it," she said. 

After lunch, the group was introduced to more Nellis agencies with a panel discussion called "A Tool kit for Preparedness." Helping agencies, who gave an overview of their jobs and agency roles, included the Nellis A&FRC, services, health and wellness center, family advocacy, life skills, legal, chaplain, military equal opportunity and a first sergeant.
Graduation ended the course, with each spouse presented with a coin by Colonel Bartley, who told the audience they were all of vital importance to the mission, and their willingness to attend the course showed their support of the Air Force's mission. 

The newly-wed Mrs. Banda was last seen taking phone numbers from her new "sisters of the Air Force," and discussing upcoming events with the enlisted wives club. As she departed, she was heard to say, "I feel like I have come home now."