PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- It happens every month. But it just so happens in months like this one, the dinners and get-togethers take on a little more meaning. But just a little bit more. Because being apart from loved ones can hurt any time of year.
At least that is the opinion of Lil Cassidy, director, Airman & Family Readiness Center, as she described Tuesday night's dinner with the spouses and children of deployed Airmen, hosted by the Brevard County Civilian Military Community Relations Council.
But just because these people are separated, doesn't mean they still don't keep it all together.
"These wives and husbands are really amazing," said Ms. Cassidy. "Here they have their spouses gone for months at a time, often in harm's way, but they still go about the business of doing what they have to do to keep things going here on the home front.
"And we never hear a negative word from them. They know what they bought into when they became a military spouse and they just deal with it. There are some great people in this room tonight," she added with a smile.
Ms. Tee Pearcey, wife of Staff Sgt. Maurice Pearcey, a 45th Civil Engineer Squadron electrician, couldn't agree more with Ms. Cassidy's opinion. Her husband deployed to Balad, Iraq, in October, and is scheduled to return next May.
"There are some great people in this room tonight," she said, looking around at the dozen-or-so Civ/Mil volunteers serving up a delicious home-cooked meal that she, and their two sons, D.J., 7 and Maurice Jr., 2, enjoyed with 60 other spouses and children.
Also taking the time to show their support and appreciation to the spouses, and to help pass out toys to the children were Brig. Gen. Edward L. Bolton, Jr., 45th Space Wing commander, Col. Charles Beck, 45th Mission Support Group commander, and Maj. Pat White, 45th Force Support Squadron commander.
"It's just so nice for all these people to do this for us; they don't even know us. It makes me feel special, because I know they appreciate the sacrifices Maurice and all the other Patrick Airmen are making," said Ms. Pearcey.
"I've been to these dinners before, and they always give us the royal treatment here. I already have a thank-you card in my purse, and I'll leave it with them before I go," she said with a warm smile.
Paul Zima, a current Civ/Mil member and former Command Chief here at the 45th Space Wing, said none of the focus should go anywhere but to the spouses and children being honored.
This is the 10th such dinner his organization has hosted, he said, and the second holiday affair.
"We (Civ/Mil) are not the story. Not even close. The families we are hoping to serve tonight are," said Mr. Zima.
"We're not looking for nor do we deserve any praise, it's the families we honor by this small token of our appreciation who should be getting the attention," he said.
Ms. Stacy Bush, whose husband, Staff Sgt. Shaun Bush is also serving in Iraq, said she, too, feels honored by what others do for her, her children, and her husband, half-a-world away. She enjoyed the meal with their two children, Kiley, 7, and C. J., 3.
"This is the second time the three of us have come to one of these dinners," said Ms. Bush, whose husband is assigned to the 45th Security Forces Squadron.
"It's nice that people we don't even know take the time and effort to show their appreciation for what our spouses are doing. I know we are all proud of them, and it's nice to know others feel the same way."
Ms. Cassidy said she's learned not to be surprised by anything the community partners do for our Airmen and their families.
"The time, effort, and generosity all of our community partners in organizing this event - and all our events - clearly demonstrate their appreciation to the families for all they do at the home front while their sponsors are deployed" said Ms. Cassidy.
"We appreciate our families and the community partners for their spirit of giving and caring... especially this month."