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News | Sept. 17, 2021

Linking hearts with Heart Link

By Senior Airman Jordan Smith 673d Air Base Wing / Public Affairs

It’s no secret the military lifestyle is unique. The good news is that there’s an orientation program for new military spouses to aid with understanding acronyms, customs and courtesies, employment assistance, finances, adjusting to living in a new state, medical assistance, and everything in between.

Heart Link is an Air Force adaptations and networking program hosted by an installation’s Military & Family Readiness Center for military spouses of less than five years. The program is hosted on a quarterly basis and based on the needs of the installation.

“At its core, Heart Link is a spouse adaptation and networking program,” says Christie Rodriguez, program manager at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s M&FRC. “Those who attend gain a greater understanding of military culture, protocol and the mission here at JBER, while also connecting to other spouses, resources, and support programs on base and in the local area.”

The full day orientation includes multiple guest speakers from numerous JBER agencies, a scavenger hunt, games and prizes, and complimentary lunch. Participants also get to connect with other spouses who have personal experiences with said helping agencies and Alaska living.

“As a new military spouse, I didn’t know what to expect nor was I prepared for the culture shock,” says Kate Line, a military spouse stationed at JBER. “It was the first time being away from friends and family. It was overwhelming having to learn how to navigate military life, figure out military time, the new language of acronyms, and no friends. Heart Link was a life saver! I learned about the Air Force culture, protocols, acronyms, and base resources. I connected with other spouses who are going through the same thing and made my first friends.”

JBER itself is a unique location and comes with a good share of learning curves between wildlife and weather. The plethora of resources located here help to cultivate a positive experience and make this assignment truly one of a kind.

“If you’re new to base it’s a great way to learn all that JBER has to offer,” says Carey Crance, a military spouse stationed at JBER. “Every base is different, so it’s great to have a one-stop-shop to learn about what is here. The event did touch on a little bit of protocol which is always helpful, but it was done in a fun way.”

Of everything offered during Heart Link, the connections and relationships you’ll gain from the event are perhaps the most impactful resource.

“A few years back I had two spouses attend Heart Link who both were newly married spouses at their first duty station, one had been married for a few weeks and the other just over two months,” says Rodriguez. “I ran into both of them shopping together at the commissary preparing for Thanksgiving that they were having together. It’s stories like that about connection… that are highlighted throughout the day.”

Although Heart Link is an Air Force program geared towards new military spouses, this program is open to any spouse from any branch of service regardless how long they have been a spouse.

The next Heart Link event is scheduled for November 10, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at JBER’s Log Cabin. Spouses who want to participate can sign up by visiting https://mfrcjber.setmore.com/bookclass or call the Log Cabin at (907) 552-4943 for more information.