In early 2006 a chance meeting between Steve Roberts, managing partner at Wolf Creek Utah, and a chaplain from Hill Air Force Base resulted in a program that has served over 1000 airmen and their families. Three or four times a year families that have someone scheduled to deploy within 30 days are invited to Wolf Creek for a complimentary weekend that includes luxury second home accommodations, all meals, world class recreation opportunities, a structured program to help both parents and children deal with deployment issues and a dinner dance.
This program has held Best Practice status within the Air Force for 2 years and several bases from around the U.S. are working to create something similar for their families.
One of the unique qualities of this program is what is done for the children. Several base organizations along with Air Force child development specialists take over the local junior high with a myriad of activities along with focused programming to help these children deal with the inherent fear and uneasiness that comes with a parent’s deployment.
Sue Munson, with the Wolf Creek Foundation, has noted that when these families arrive they have all of their emotional defenses up but that by the time they leave they are completely different people. This program truly makes a difference in people’s lives.
The following is a quote from an article that appeared in Airman’s Magazine
“I believe very strongly in the program,” said Trish Hammond. Her husband is Maj. Todd Hammond, commander of the 388th Equipment Maintenance Squadron. “I came up with 18 reasons why I couldn’t go. Now, I’m so glad I went. I went for my family. I went for my spouse and I went more, I think, for me.” The mother of two said, “I believe in it so much that I came up during the last retreat and stayed the weekend to help. And, I’m coming up in December to help.” Mrs. Hammond said, “I’m yelling and screaming at the top of my lungs to everyone I know, ‘You need to come here and do this.’ “If your loved one is leaving, it is important for your family,” she said. “It is important for your spouse but most importantly, it is important for you.”
The parents go through three training sessions put on by the base Chapel that thoroughly deal with the issues that arise during a spouses deployment as well as re-integration issues when the spouse returns.
Several seasoned officers have reported that in 25-30 careers they have never been offered anything as beneficial to their families as this program.
For more information on the location for the AEF C.O.P.E.
retreats go to www.wolfcreekutah.com