By Airman 1st Class Tara Stetler

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – Minutes after receiving the phone call that brought news that her wife would be deploying, Reyna Williams explained how she would find the most support and comfort in the Scott Air Force Base spouse community.

“I will honestly be calling everyone just to be like, ‘Okay, I need you guys,’” she said. “Nobody will understand that like another spouse.”

Because of the unique challenges military families face such as having a spouse deployed, military spouses lean on each other as if they were family. Whether it be helping to alleviate everyday stresses or helping each other through a time of grief, spouses play a crucial role in taking care of airmen and their families.

Find out why the USO is shining a spotlight on military spouses in 2018

To show these spouses that their role is valued, the USO and all military branches celebrated Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 11. Each year, the day honors military spouses’ vital role in helping the military members perform their missions.

2017 Military Spouse of the Year Felicia Davis, who is married to Tech. Sgt. Andrew Davis, Air Force Space Command Cyberspace Support Squadron, said that “as a spouse, you always need to lean on someone for moral support.”

Davis also spoke about how, when military members and their dependents are stationed away from any family, the spouse community steps in and fills that role.

Davis is a member of the Scott Spouses’ Club, an organization whose goal is to organize educational, charitable, and social activities to benefit the base and its surrounding community. Additionally, the group helps support each other and other spouses during times of hardship and stress, helping create the feeling of being part of a family.

Felicia Davis stands with her husband, Tech. Sgt. Andrew Davis, and two daughters, Katelynne and Addisyn. “You’re a village and you kind of have to lean on each other even when you don’t want to admit it,” said Felicia about the military spouse community. | Photo credit Courtesy photo

“Your military families around you, you all become one big family,” said Davis. “My girls call [our neighbors on base] auntie and uncle, and their girls do the same vice versa.”

When Davis’ husband wasn’t able to make it to their family spring break trip due to work, her neighbor, also a military spouse, filled in his place at the last minute.

“We all made it a big friend trip,” Davis said.

Williams, who is married to Air Mobility Command administration craftsman Master Sgt. Robin Williams, also stressed how the spouse community acts like family away from home. She has grown close with other spouses at Scott as a member of the Key Spouse Program, an official Air Force program that fosters relationships between spouses and unit leaders.

“[Spouses] are your family, in a sense,” Williams said. “They are able to help you in ways that your family, who is four states away, can’t.”

One of the ways they can support each other and their military spouses is by providing necessary support during times of grief and hardship.

Sign up for our emails to stay connected to the USO and the military families we serve.

Spouses Band Together When Times Get Tough

When her wife was stationed in Yokota Air Base, Williams witnessed the spouse community band together like family to help an airman whose in-laws passed away back-to-back.

“We would help with, ‘Hey, can we bring you food? Do you need a break and want us to watch your daughter for a bit?’” said Williams. Their efforts ultimately helped to relieve some of the stress that family was experiencing.

At Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Davis also witnessed spouses aiding in the grieving process after a service member was killed in an on-base shooting. She said that spouses protected the victims’ families from media trying to invade their personal space during their time of grief.

“When the media hears things, they become hounds,” said Davis. “We had spouses standing guard on their block. [One of the families] had two little boys. You have to protect them from the media.”

Stateside and overseas, military spouses are there to support each other and their military spouses through their most difficult times.

“They are my backbone,” said Williams. “In the good, the bad, and the ugly, they’re always there.”

This story was originally published on DVIDS.