Wanted: Airmen up for adoption
By Senior Airman Rusty Frank, 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 03, 2014
SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany - --
For Airmen living in the dorms, being away from home can cause a sense of lonliness during the weekends and holidays. Some might even miss that good, old-fashioned, home cooked meal or the feeling of being around a family.
To combat that, an old program is coming back.
"The Adopt an Airman program is a program where we get German families to adopt Airmen from the dorms," said Senior Airman Andres Gomez, a 52nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron biological environmental engineer. "The German families invite an Airman over and have dinner, talk to each other and share experiences."
Gomez said that he and Karin Jung, a German and English school teacher in Bitburg, Germany, are in charge of the program and are the ones responsible for bringing it back.
"I was the experiment for this program," said Gomez. "I was adopted by Karin's family in December and we had a blast!"
Jung's mom immediately welcomed Gomez to the family after their first meeting, Jung said. Her mom told Jung to keep inviting him over to the house and nine months later
Gomez and Jung have a strong friendship.
It's an experience that Jung and Gomez want other German families and Airmen to experience.
"They tell you about the German culture," said Gomez. "I want the Airmen to experience what I did when I was adopted."
In a way, this program is like a dating website where couples are matched based on similar likes and dislikes, with Jung and Gomez serving as matchmakers.
"We have a form that the family and Airman fill out," said Gomez. "On this form, they write down their hobbies, likes, dislikes and allergies, and Karin and I match them up."
Gomez said for the time being, the program is for Airmen who live in the dorms.
"Just for the fact that most of them just spend their time in the dorms playing video games and not getting out as much. We want to bring those Airmen out to the community," said Gomez. "Some of the 52nd Fighter Wing priorities are to build partnership capacities and to strengthen local partnerships. We have families inviting Airmen over; they're going to share cultures. It's a good a way to reach out to a community and it's good way for them to reach out to us."
The kick-off for the program is a barbecue set for Sept. 5, 2014. Gomez said that's when Airmen and the German families get to meet each other and exchange contact info. Gomez added that his main priority with the event is for the families and Airmen to setup a dinner date. He also stated that if everything goes well, then the plan is to hold this event once a quarter.
For the Airmen that are involved, they have to remember they are ambassadors and should remember the Air Force core values and be respectful, warned Gomez and Jung.
"In 2006, it was the case that some of the Airmen never showed up," said Jung. "Eventually the German families that were hosts became frustrated and weren't interested anymore. The Airmen also became nervous or anxious and wouldn't respond to email or phone call invites to dinner. I hope that this time everybody will check their emails, phones and get back with the family and at least call and tell them if they can't make it."
With support from both the local community and leadership, Gomez and Jung said they are excited to see how the program will turn out.
"German families are willing to participate in this program," said Gomez. "We advertised it so much throughout the local community we got over 50 families saying that they would be willing to adopt an Airman."
For more information regarding the Adopt an Airman Program, please email email@example.com.