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Military spouses key to supporting AFSOUTH Airmen, mission

  • Published
  • By Capt. Nathan D. Broshear
  • 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern Public Affairs
When members of the public envision a military deployment, thoughts of dark gray aircraft and hardware, camouflaged uniforms, tents, military hospitals and satellite receivers are likely some of the first thoughts that come to mind.

While it's likely these items will be present, behind the military infrastructure, a dedicated group of spouses work to add their own accents to Air Forces Southern's efforts in Central, South America and the Caribbean.

"For every military operating location, training event, exercise or airshow there's a corresponding project for the 12th Air Force's senior spouses," explained Mrs. Kathleen Seip, the wife of Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, the 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern commander. "Whether it's assembling gift baskets for our counterparts of a particular nation or gathering donations for a school opening or orphanage visit -- AFSOUTH spouses work year-round to ensure our operations include a family focus."

Focusing on AFSOUTH projects necessitates a flexible schedule for working spouses. Mrs. Anna Marie Mudd, the wife of Brig. Gen. Joseph Mudd, the 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern vice commander, works with a Tucson area artist. "It's important to have a flexible schedule, I'm very fortunate to be able to take time off to attend functions or support any one of our numerous fundraising efforts," she said.

Mrs. Mudd is especially proud of the role military spouses have in helping to raise money to fund scholarships for military dependents.

"Last year, spouses' groups were able to award $22,500 in scholarships to military dependents (children and spouses of active duty members) pursuing higher education or vocational schools," said Mrs. Mudd. "Military spouses sacrifice their personal careers and quality time to help others in the military family -- it's worth it."

While military spouses are able to accomplish amazing results, some AFSOUTH missions require a husband and wife team. For example, when military leaders meet with dignitaries or host foreign Air Force commanders, it's customary for spouses to help welcome these important influential decision makers. Military spouses also attend community functions, work at local charities and prepare welcome gifts for distinguished visitors.

Mrs. Sandy Korcheck, the wife of Col. Michael Korcheck, the 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern director of staff, epitomizes the life of a military spouse. Their role is a "busy balance" -- attending children's sports and school functions while working to present the family side of the Air Forces Southern during functions, holidays and visits by foreign military members, said Mrs. Korcheck.

"When spouses from Central and South America come to Arizona, our group will work with our outstanding protocol team to put together tours of the base and local community," said Mrs. Korcheck. "Spouses, along with our counterparts from Latin America, visit the Child Development Center, the Education Center, local art museums and area sites to give foreign spouses a sense of our American culture and what Tucson has to offer."

"During these exchanges we're able to exchange ideas and find out what our partner nation's military spouses do to support their military members," said Mrs. Korcheck. "The interaction benefits both our groups--it's truly a pleasure to learn about our partner nations and their military families."

"It's important for our counterparts in the community and abroad to understand our staff on a personal level," explained General Seip. "Together, we're a team -- a kind word or thoughtful gesture by a military spouse can make all the difference during critical meetings or discussions between commanders."

Over the winter holidays, AFSOUTH spouses packaged more than 800 dozen cookies for delivery to deployed military members at AFSOUTH forward operating locations. Over the years, the "Cookie Caper" has become a capstone event for the group, recognizing the sacrifices of deployed members and bringing a bit of hometown cheer to AFSOUTH forward operating locations. Once the treats are packaged, supporters travel to each forward operating location in the AFSOUTH area of responsibility to surprise those serving over the winter holidays.

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