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Deployed families enjoy holiday cheer

Mikey Oren enjoys the festivities at the Deployed Spouses Holiday Party Dec. 17, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by/ Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross/released)

Mikey Oren eats his "favorite food," turkey at the Deployed Spouses Holiday Party Dec. 17, 2010. The meal was provided by the Salvation Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross)

Families enjoy the festivities at the Deployed Spouses Holiday Party Dec. 17, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by/ Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross/released)

Dugan McAuliffe, age 7, poses with Col. Clint Crosier, 460th Space Wing commander in front of the 32 inch TV he won in a raffle at the Deployed Spouses Holiday Party Dec. 17, 2010. Other prizes given away included a four night stay at a local hotel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross)

Families enjoy the festivities at the Deployed Spouses Holiday Party Dec. 17, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by/ Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross/released)

The Salvation Army band played Christmas Carols during the Deployed Spouses Holiday Party Dec. 17, 2010. The Salvation Army also provided the evening meal. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross)

Families enjoy the festivities at the Deployed Spouses Holiday Party Dec. 17, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by/ Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross/released)

Children fill thier plates at the Deployed Spouses Holiday Party Dec. 17, 2010. the Airman and Family Readiness Center hosts a monthly event for deployed spouses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross)

Benjamin Osterhouse sits with Santa at the Deployed Spouses Holiday Party Dec. 17, 2010. Familes were also treated to a dinner from Mimi's Cafe courtesy of the Salvation Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross)

Benjamin Osterhaus sits with Santa at the Deployed Spouses Holiday Party Dec. 17, 2010. Familes were also treated to a dinner from Mimi's Cafe courtesy of the Salvation Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross)

The Rivera family make a promise on Santa's beard to behave for the Holidays.  Children at the Deployed Spouses Holiday Party Dec. 17, 2010. were able to meet Santa as well as recieve a gift from his elves. (U.S. Air Force photo by/ Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross)

The Rivera family make a promise on Santa's beard to behave for the Holidays. Children at the Deployed Spouses Holiday Party Dec. 17, 2010. were able to meet Santa as well as recieve a gift from his elves. (U.S. Air Force photo by/ Master Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Buckley's Airman and Family Readiness Center, with the help of the Salvation Army, brought Santa to the deployed family monthly event last weekend.

"These monthly events are provided as an effort to make separation more bearable, build morale, relieve stress, and help put families in touch with local and national resources, as well as to promote camaraderie among those experiencing similar situations," said Master Sgt. John Azbell, 460th Force Support Squadron

But for some attendees, the reasons for the events are much simpler. Matthew Colgan, age 7, whose dad is in the Navy and deployed to Iraq, put it succinctly.

"I'm here to eat dinner, get a present and see Santa," he said. "I wanted to come, I like getting presents."

Matthew's mother, Elizabeth Colgan, also enjoys the monthly deployed family events.

"They have a lot of activities we normally wouldn't be able to do on our own, like the Youth Mock Deployment," she said.

In addition to being able to try new experiences, families also get to talk with other Team Buckley members who are going through the same difficulties.

"I like coming here and spending time with other families and time with my whole family," said Alyanna Rivera, age 12. "You can have fun and sometime people think about their deployed people all the time, so this helps them get their mind off of it."

Her grandfather, who is watching her and her two brothers during their father's year-long deployment agreed.

"It's for the kids, they can distract themselves," said Gilber Rivera. "They really enjoy it. I want to thank all the people who make this happen. We are here to support not only my son, but all the people are doing the best for our country."

The deployed family event wasn't about thanking service members however, it was about thanking families.

"We cannot do what we do without your support back home," said Col. Clint Crosier, 406th Space Wing commander, to the family members who attended. He also ensured the family members knew they were still part of Team Buckley.

"There is always help available," he added. "The Air Force is dedicated to taking care of all our deployed spouses - Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force. We are here to help and support you."

Though the Airman and Family Readiness Center want people to attend to receive support and know who to call when they need assistance, they also want everyone to know what Ilan Rivera, age 10, has already figured out. Families should attend the monthly gathering "because it's fun."
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