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Davis-Monthan's Airman & Family Readiness

Posted at 3:23 PM, May 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-10 00:39:01-04
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is focused on deploying and putting hundreds of people to work around the world. But, what about their loved ones? The spouses, children - the ones our heroes have to leave behind.
The military homecoming is the moment families wait months for. They get to hold on tight again and see with their own eyes what has changed since they've been gone. 
"She's all big on me now," said one airman about his daughter. He came back from a deployment earlier this year. "When I left she wasn't even crawling and now, first tooth - working on the second tooth. So amazing."
But, that moment is months in the making. Before those involved get the feelings of relief and happiness, many are stricken with feelings of fear and confusion; not knowing what to expect. 
"When you're in the military, your job is to deploy and you have to keep your eye on that goal, which means you have to be prepared," said Heidi Meisterling.
Meisterling runs the Airman and Family Readiness Center. It is a place that has countless resources before, during and after a deployment. 
"You can't be over in a deployed location, worrying that your family. 'Oh my gosh what if a water main breaks, I didn't tell them where the water shut-off was,'" Meisterling explained. 
She said, it is those little things that make a big difference in ensuring families feel secure. 
That is why they offer family events, child care, counseling financial readiness - the works. 
"We are the proactive agency," Meisterling said. "Our programs are for the mass population and we service general adjustment-type of issues."
One of those, a required pre-deployment briefing where the center goes over the fundamentals. 
Airman Ryan Pronger told KGUN9, it was comforting to know his wife was not going to go through it alone. 
"She's got people to go talk to in case something happens and I'm not there to take care of her - just her to be able to take care of things that go on whenever I'm not around," Pronger said. 
"It's providing that support. It's so no one feels like they are alone. That's really what it is," Meisterling said. 
Support that hopefully makes that emotional homecoming not seem so far away.