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The season for hearts brings spouses of deployed together

Beale first sergeants serve food to families of deployed Airmen during a Valentine's Day themed Hearts Apart Dinner at the Contrails Inn Feb. 6. The Airmen & Family Readiness Center together with Beale’s first sergeants hosted the dinner for families to get together for a night of food, fun and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shawn Nickel/Released)

Beale first sergeants serve food to families of deployed Airmen during a Valentine's Day themed Hearts Apart Dinner at the Contrails Inn Feb. 6. The Airmen & Family Readiness Center together with Beale’s first sergeants hosted the dinner for families to get together for a night of food, fun and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shawn Nickel/Released)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- More than 80 spouses and children of deployed Airmen came together for a Hearts Apart Dinner at the Contrails Inn Dinning Facility Feb. 6.

The Airmen & Family Readiness Center together with Beale's first sergeants hosted the dinner for families to get together for a night of food, fun and prizes.

"There are so many unexpected challenges that come up during deployments," said Master Sgt. Chad Hepner, 9th Medical Group first sergeant, who is a military-to-military spouse. "It's important to be around other military spouses and members of the military who have been through this before. We are here to show we care."

A&FRC representatives explained available programs to attendees, Child Development Center and Youth Center volunteers provided a room with activities and toys for children to enjoy.

"This dinner is an opportunity for us to showcase our services," said Master Sgt. Mark Torralba, 9th Force Support Squadron A&FRC NCO in charge of readiness. "We bring out every service we offer in full force to make sure each spouse has an opportunity to take advantage of anything they need."

One spouse, Jessica Crane, came with her three children and said after several separations she knows the challenges of deployments well.

"I'm pregnant, miss my husband, and will be alone the big day this baby comes," she said. "These dinners put me in touch with key spouses, leadership and other people who have been where I am now. It's not just important for me, it's important for my children. Growing up in a military culture, they know they aren't alone."

Leadership from each squadron attended to answer questions while Beale's first sergeants served a buffet style dinner and mingled with the families.

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