Story by SrA Kellyann Novak on 04/09/2018Award winner Dana Wacks, president of the Langley Officers' Spouses' Club at JBLE, is the first guard spouse to fulfill this role and is also the only guard spouse in the organization at this time.
As president, Mrs. Wacks revamped a lot of the organization including membership and funding opportunities. Membership has increased by 20 percent and fundraising profits by more than 50 percent. She also headed the opening of a thrift store at Langley AFB. In addition, she single-handedly raised over $7,000 for dependent scholarships from sponsors. Under her leadership, the LOSC received the Base Volunteer Award in January 2018. She received the 2018 AFI MSOY award in recognition of her efforts.
On top of being a military spouse, mother, having a full-time job and owning a small business, the amount of time and resources she commits to the LOSC is outstanding. Her husband, Maj. Gregory Wacks, the 192nd Force Support Flight director of personnel, is very supportive of her initiatives.
"Dana informs other spouses about what the guard offers in the total force environment here at Langley Air Force Base," said Wacks. "Additionally she brings the guard spouse perspective to active duty spouses and Langley AFB leadership."
She first learned about the spouses' association while her husband was serving in the active duty Air Force and was subsequently made aware of the missing link for a guard representative. When Wacks transitioned to the 192nd FW, Mrs. Wacks became the first guard spouse to be involved with the association.
The LOSC supports the spouses of men and women serving in all branches of the military stationed at JBLE so they are better able to support the mission. Their purpose is to develop, organize and sponsor cultural, educational, social and recreational opportunities and activities. The goal of the LOSC is to collect and disseminate information of interest and value to its members and to foster, protect and preserve the ideals of charity and benevolence in keeping with ideals of the United States Air Force.
On March 8, 2018, the LOSC took a historical vote to change membership eligibility. In the near future, spouses of Airman Basic up to General will be able to join.
"This is just one way of offering support to all spouses and giving them a chance to connect socially with other spouses," said Mrs. Wacks. "The spouses' club is a two prong organization: first is our charitable work and providing support to all spouses, second is our social aspect with upcoming events such as bingo, escape rooms and the Kentucky Derby."
Acting as a one-stop support system, the LOSC offers a variety of resources to military spouses and families ranging from assistance during deployments to help finding employment, social events and babysitting.
"This is a huge network," said Mrs. Wacks. "If you need something, someone here will have a connection."
The LOSC provides a direct link through spouses to husbands or wives of leadership in the chain of command. As president, Mrs. Wacks has been working to bridge the gap between active duty and guard components to better connect military personnel and their families. Unfortunately, she is currently the only guard spouse within the LOSC which limits the amount of knowledge that can come from guard spouses.
The guard members and spouses could bring a unique perspective to the LOSC because they are not permanently changing stations, know the community well, and bring a sense of stability. They are long-term, local residents that would be able to provide active duty families with a better understanding of the local community and available opportunities.
"I'm hoping more guard spouses will join the organization," said Wacks. "That way there are more voices for the guard concerns and support."
A variety of advisors in the LOSC representing units at Langley offer guidance and advice, mentor spouses, and help keep LOSC events and meetings on track. The following people are current advisors: Sherry Tyler - 633rd Air Base Wing; Karen Murphy - Air Combat Command; Renee Borchelt - 1st Fighter Wing; and Allison Brown - 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing. Currently, the advisor position for the 192nd FW is vacant and available to a VaANG officer's spouse.
The LOSC participates in charitable outreach to organizations on and off base. Some of the funds needed for these donations come from the volunteer-run Langley Thrift Store. The thrift store is open to anyone at JBLE and sells consignments including household items, clothing, outdoor toys, movies and much more. Items are donated to the thrift store and the profits made directly support charitable organizations.
Langley Thrift Store hours of operation are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is located inside the Community Commons building at Langley AFB. In order to be available to guard members, the thrift store is also open on Saturdays of guard drill weekends. Volunteers looking to support the thrift store may contact Heather Alvarado, Langley Thrift Store manager, at email@example.com. Opportunities are available to volunteer during the week as well as on guard Saturdays.
In addition, the LOSC provides grants and scholarships that are available for military dependents that are high school seniors or spouses who plan to attend an accredited college or university. There are also opportunities to receive grants to help fund community projects on and around Langley AFB. These scholarships and grants would not be possible without the generous donations from the Langley Civic Leaders Association and major corporations outside of Langley as well as the proceeds from fundraisers held by the LOSC.
Members of the LOSC participate in social events that bring spouses together for friendship, networking and support. There are activities and events available to both men and women spouses that reach all levels of interest. They also hold a monthly membership-wide social to bring all members together to discuss LOSC events, volunteer opportunities and more.
For more information, event details or volunteer opportunities, please visit the LOSC website at www.langleyosc.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.