Work, College Among Outlets for Service Wives in Okinawa
By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan, April 16, 1997 Rosalba Kuiroz and Rosetta Honaker work at the Joint Services Family Shelter near here. Kadena Air Base contracts with the shelter to help military spouses and children who become victims of abuse.
The women landed the jobs after first holding down volunteer positions. They said military spouses looking for meaningful outlets on Okinawa should give volunteerism a try. Master Sgt. Dennis Andis, deputy director of the Kadena family support center, agrees.
"Volunteering is a great way for family members to become involved in the community and frequently leads to paid positions," Andis said. Both appropriated and nonappropriated fund jobs are plentiful on the island, he said. "I don't know of many families stationed here who couldn't use the extra income."
That's especially true for those who live off base. Rosetta and her husband, Senior Airman Johnny Honaker, 18th Maintenance Squadron, have lived on the economy since they arrived a little more than a year ago. "We're 15th on the base housing waiting list," she said, "and should be able to move on base in about three months."
While they wait for base housing, the Honakers must shell out more than their housing allowance for rent each month. Her income has helped them live comfortably, but for those without the additional resources, there often isn't a lot left over for extras such as going to movies and dining out.
Spouses accompanying their military sponsor to Okinawa also can take advantage of hundreds of college courses available on base, said Rosalba, whose husband, Staff Sgt. Manuel Kuiroz, is assigned to the 18th Communications Squadron. "The government pays 50 percent of the tuition, and the courses are half the average length of normal semesters. A lot of people get their degrees while they're here."
Finding personal outlets is important for spouses, Rosalba said, particularly when their military sponsors deploy for exercises and operations off the island. "If you don't have anything to do, you're probably going to call home a lot, and that can get very expensive," she said. In fact, Rosalba and Rosetta both "call" home more frequently by using e-mail on their home computers. "It's just another way you can save money and not feel isolated from your families and friends back in the states," Rosetta said.
Andis said every DoD spouse arriving on Okinawa should make it a point to visit the Kadena family support center. "We're an Air Force unit, but we cater to everyone, regardless of service affiliation," he said. "Whether they're interested in taking courses, volunteering or just meeting other spouses this is a good place to start."