Little Rock Air Force Base shows support for families of deployed

By Lisa Burnett Published November 21, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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Spouses and children of deployed airmen gather at the Little Rock Air Force Base for the quarterly Deployed Family Dinner. Community members donate food, and leaders from the base serve food for family members who have a loved one who is deployed overseas.

JACKSONVILLE — When military personnel are stationed overseas, their families can feel alone, but the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville is doing its part to show those families of deployed troops that they are not alone.

The base’s chaplain, Garrell Calton, said he’s been at the base for 2 1/2 years and ia among those who participate in the quarterly Deployed Family Dinner.

“[The attendees] are deployed airmen’s spouses and their children,” Calton said. “They are able to come partake in a free meal, games and activities.”

While they are at the dinner, Calton said, a representative from the base tells attendees about upcoming events on the base.

“All of the people who come to the dinner have something in common,” he said. “They can meet with other spouses and talk about things going on.”

Calton said the Deployed Family Dinner gives spouses an opportunity for a night off, and they don’t have to worry about dinner for the evening.

“If we can give back one special night a quarter, that’s what I look forward to doing,” he said.

Local organizations provide the food for the dinner, and volunteers from the community and base serve the food.

“I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces, and that means the evening was a success for them,” Calton said. “[The dinner] is a lot of work, but it’s definitely worthwhile.”

Calton said the dinner is a way to show appreciation to the men and women who serve the United States.

“Freedom is not cheap,” he said. “[These spouses] are left paying bills, making sure the house payment is done, watching their kids and working on their house. They’re left with a lot on their plate.”

Calton said he meets with airmen on a day-to-day basis during the week at the Little Rock Air Force Base.

“I get out and meet with the airmen and make sure they’re spiritually, mentally and physically ready for the job they are going to do. We do anything we can do to encourage them,” Calton said.

While the dinners are held only four times a year, Calton said, volunteers are always ready to spring into action when it comes time for the next dinner.

“We’ve already got next year planned out,” he said. “The community pairs up, and there’s always someone waiting to do [the dinner].”

Moe’s Southwest Grill and Red Lobster have provided meals in the past, and local churches are always looking to provide food, Calton said.

Calton has been involved with the Air Force since 2002 and said he enjoys his time at the Little Rock base.

“This is the most community-oriented base I’ve seen in my career in the Air Force,” Calton said.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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