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A home away from home

Airman Santina Cardoni, 90th Emergency Management specialist, meets with her sponsor family, Martha and Douglas Wilson, Adopt an Airman sponsors, at a local restaurant in Cheyenne, Wyo., Sept. 26, 2019. The Adopt an Airman program is an opportunity available to first-term Airmen and gives them the chance to have a home away from home. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nicole Reed)

Airman Santina Cardoni, 90th Emergency Management specialist, meets with her sponsor family, Martha and Douglas Wilson, Adopt an Airman sponsors, at a local restaurant in Cheyenne, Wyo., Sept. 26, 2019. The Adopt an Airman program is an opportunity available to first-term Airmen and gives them the chance to have a home away from home. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nicole Reed)

F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --

Military members.

 

They get orders. They pack. They move to a new home. 

 

They leave cherished friends and move far away from family members who love them. 

 

Sometimes, military life gets lonely.

 

A supportive new program has emerged fostering a relationship between local Cheyenne community members and Airmen.

 

The Adopt an Airman program was established this year at F. E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., with the intent to fortify Airmen resiliency through community bonds.

 

The program matches first-term enlisted Airmen with community members who provide them support and friendship. Airmen are paired with sponsors who share similar interests, such as hobbies, music and movie preferences.

 

“Transitioning into military life can tax even the best of spirits, producing feelings of loneliness, homesickness, and doubt,” said Carolyn Ritschard, Adopt an Airman chairman. “By providing a home away from home, members of our community can establish meaningful relationships which will bolster Airmen resiliency.”

 

One such relationship is the new but strengthening bond between Airman Santina Cardoni, 90th Emergency Management specialist, and her sponsor, Martha Wilson, Adopt an Airman sponsor.

 

The young Airman has been stationed at F. E. Warren AFB for a short six months, over one-thousand miles from her family who lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

 

“The program itself is great because it doesn’t lead you and your family, it just introduces you to the sponsor family and you take it from there,” says Cardoni.  “We talk and meet based on our own schedules and do what we like based on our common interests.”

 

Though far from home, Cardoni can still connect to a family and feel more at home through trips to the farmers market, sporting events, and exploring Cheyenne. 

 

“Even if you are just missing a home-cooked meal or a house with a dog, the Adopt an Airman program is a great experience and it’s really fun to meet new people who are so welcoming to Airmen on base here,” said Cardoni. 

 

The Wilson family has experience with the Air Force and has seen how their son received support from his community while deployed or stationed far from home. 

 

According to Martha, the Adopt an Airman program gives her family the chance to provide for an Airman in their own community in the same way.

 

“Young adults, college and military, can feel homesick so far from friends and family so we are excited to give someone the support they need and a home away from home,” said Martha. “Santina even brought another Airman out to our house for dinner. We feel fortunate to have this opportunity to be a part of Santina’s life.”

 

The opportunity to sponsor an Airman is only available to community members who are not currently active duty or full-time Guard or Reserve, preventing potential Airman-Sponsor matches within the same chain of command.

 

Ritschard says that community members benefit just as much by becoming sponsors as Airmen do by joining Adopt an Airmen.

 

“Sponsors not only get to support Airmen, but they also have the opportunity to grow in their understanding of lives of Airmen in the Air Force,” she says. “It is clear that members of our community appreciate those who serve in the military and would like practical ways of expressing their gratitude and providing support.”

 

Ritschard also wants Airmen and community members to know that this is not just a share-a-holiday-meal relationship. Whether it’s grabbing a slice of pizza or paddle-boating in Lions Park, Airmen and sponsors should do activities they both enjoy, as frequently or as infrequently as they wish.

 

“Life is about relationships,” says Ritschard. “Everyone needs a friend to share in life’s joys and burdens.” 

 

To participate in the program as a first-term Airman or sponsor, request an application at adoptanairmanwyo@gmail.com. Follow the program on Facebook @AdoptanAirman and on Instagram @adoptanairmanwyo.