Commentary: Air Force Enlisted Village:

Courtesy photo
Senior Master Sgt. Bill Fortenberry is the 12th Air Force First Sergeant at  Davis-Monthan AFB after completing First Sergeant tours at Tyndall AFB and Kunsan AB, where he won First Sergeant of the Year at both bases.
By SENIOR MASTER SGT. BILL FORTENBERRY
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) First Sergeant
January 29, 2015

(The Air Force Enlisted Village is one of four organizations supported by the Air Force Assistance Fund campaign, which will kick off at Hill Air Force Base on March 2.)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — I first visited the Air Force Enlisted Village as a young first sergeant in 2009, when I was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. I went to visit with the Tyndall Active Airmen’s Association, Tyndall’s E-1 to E-4 Professional Association, and was amazed at what I saw.

This was also the first time I met the ninth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, James C. Binnicker, who is the current chief executive officer for the Air Force Enlisted Village. He was a very straightforward, humble and hospitable host, who was very appreciative of us being there. However, he immediately laid down the “law” known to all who work or volunteer at the Air Force Enlisted Village. 

The “law” is known as the “mom rule.” It asks three simple yet powerful questions when dealing with the Air Force Enlisted Village residents:

1. Would I do this to my Mom?

2. Would I do this for my Mom?

3. Would my Mom approve?

Break this rule and you won’t last at the Air Force Enlisted Village.

This community is truly a unique and almost magical place that really takes care of our widows and widowers. It’s a place for Airmen who fought for our country, and it’s also a place for the spouses who were by our Airmen’s side, taking care of the home front while they were off keeping this country free. The sacrifices that the members made were shared by their spouses. And, we owe it to these retired members and their spouses to provide all of the support we can. 

One way to give back is through monetary donations or simply donating your time to assist residents with their “honey-do” lists, where residents write a list of things they need accomplished or help with on lists in the laundry rooms. This list includes such things as flipping mattresses, moving furniture, pulling weeds, etc. All services, donations and volunteer hours are sincerely appreciated by all residents. 

Since my first visit in 2009, I visited the Air Force Enlisted Village four more times while stationed at Tyndall, bringing other first sergeants and Airmen with me. 

In 2010, I led the Tyndall First Sergeant Council to the Air Force Enlisted Village to help set up Christmas decorations. That was an awesome time, especially the huge Christmas tree in the middle of the Hawthorn House where the Assisted Living Wing of the Air Force Enlisted Village resides.

After so many visits, I can honestly say that if something ever happened to my stepdad and my mom needed a place to live, I would try to get her in the Air Force Enlisted Village. The place is amazing, the staff is amazing, the location is amazing and the amenities are amazing. 

It truly is a wonderful home for the widow or widower who is fully independent and just wants to live in a safe place around people with a common history ,all the way to the widow or widowers who needs the help of a full assisted-living environment. 

I have so much respect for my military brothers and sisters who came before me. We have it so much better than they did when it comes to things like pay and benefits, but also with the support of our country. I feel it is my duty to do what I can to take care of their loved ones left behind. The Air Force Enlisted Village does this far better than I ever could, so I focus my support on it.

The place is awesome, and I was hooked from my very first visit and wanted to learn more about the Air Force Enlisted Village and do more both individually and by spreading the word and getting others involved. 

The Air Force Enlisted Village is the pinnacle of support for our enlisted widows. It’s a place where widows and widowers can transition peacefully through the stages of life and still live in the same place, surrounded by the same friends and friendly staff members, because everything is right there.

This organization will have my full support for the rest of my life. I hope this story reaches others who will see what I have come to see and provide their support as well and spread the word.

If you’re interested in supporting the Air Force Enlisted Village in any way, please visit its website, http://afenlistedwidows.org/ 

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