Single Parents of Tyndall

  • Published
  • By Air Force Staff Sgt. Cheyenne Lewis
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

– The U.S. Air Force has a multitude of programs put in place to help Airmen through hard times. There are resources for families of deployed members, new parents and much more. But where are the resources specifically for single parents?

Senior Master Sergeant Ayana Hodges, 325th Force Support Squadron senior enlisted leader, attended a senior leadership workshop where one of the discussion topics was how to better assist single Airmen. Upon returning to Tyndall, Hodges reached out to Master Sgt. Samantha Elliott, 325th FSS military and family life counseling section chief, and Tech. Sgt. Victoria Negrete, 325th FSS mail manager, two members whom she trusted to find solutions for the Tyndall Airmen raising children on their own. That’s how the program, Single Parents of Tyndall was born.

“We had this kind of program at Spangdahlem [Air Base],” said Negrete. “In our experience, when you’re stationed overseas you have more support as a single parent because you become one big family. That’s what’s missing at Tyndall. That’s the missing puzzle piece”

Elliott, a single parent of eight and a half years, and Negrete, and single parent of 11 years, are no stranger to the struggles of being a single parent in the military. While they both claim to have gotten mostly positive support throughout their career, the resources made available to military members didn’t include them. To this day they’re still unsure what resources are actually out there, if any.

“The same struggles that I had back then, are the same struggles that are happening now, it’s just a different Air force,” said Elliott. “If there are [Air Force] resources out there for single parents and [myself and TSgt Negrete] are struggling to find them, then it’s not being properly advertised. If we can’t locate resources then the newer Airmen aren’t going to find them either.”

SPOT meets quarterly with the primary goal of sharing resources, experiences and helping each other. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. For the single parents of Tyndall, Negrete hopes this group can become that village for many parents who feel alone.

“Being able to know your resources and know that people are going [through the same thing as] you is huge,” Negrete continued. “As a parent, if you feel like you’re struggling or failing, having this safe space for members to know they’re not alone is really important. [SPOT] is the starting point for that.”

In an effort to get more information to the people who need it, the group leaders plan on speaking at Checkertail Newcomers Briefings. In addition to that, they aim to provide education for leadership across the base to provide perspective on what members may be dealing with.

“Some of the experiences the Airmen share with us at these meetings need to be shared with leadership so they understand,” Elliott concluded. “I shouldn’t have to worry about my kid while I’m working. If the military member’s family isn’t good, the military member [can’t focus on the mission]. We are the human weapon system, if you don’t take care of the human weapon system, they’re not going to be able to do what you need them to do.”