Airmen in your community: Home away from home

2013-09-30T00:00:00Z Airmen in your community: Home away from home1st Lt. Sarah Ruckriegle 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Arizona Daily Star

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — The Community and Airman Partnership Program is one way that Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the Tucson community welcome Airmen to the community.

More than 500 new Airmen come to D-M every year as their first duty station. Those Airmen have a lot of "firsts": first base, first job, first time away from their family and the CAMP program provides for their first opportunity to be part of the community.

"The Air Force family is a great network, but D-M has something in addition to that," said Captain Tabatha Zellhart, the CAMP Program Officer in Charge. "CAMP is an extension of that family into the Tucson community."

CAMP partners local Tucson families with Davis-Monthan Airmen through matching similar interests, backgrounds and lifestyles in order to provide the Airmen with a home away from home.

"My favorite part of the program is that it keeps me busy," said A1C Tevin Brown, from the 355th Contracting Squadron. "I used to just go back to my room when I was done with work. But now with the program I'm not so alone."

There is no cost associated with the CAMP program, it only requires families to be willing to open their homes and give their time. The matched families and Airmen participate in anything from volunteer work together to enjoying family style dinners.

"With my family we grill out, watch NFL games, go to U of A games and I think in the next couple weeks we are going to take a trip up to Phoenix," said Brown.

CAMP is a support network for the Airmen who live in the dorms which, depending on the personality of the Airman, can be an isolated environment.

"I have seen other airmen who seemed antisocial and the program opened them up and gave them a family here," said Brown. "My family and I are matched really well and I think more airmen should join the program and would benefit from it."

The program also gives local families an opportunity to interact with the military and learn a little something about what the men and women at D-M do.

"Having Tevin as part of our family has been a great addition. He's a stellar Airman, friend and role model for our kids. We hope that we provide him a home away from home while in Tucson and we know we are creating relationships that will last forever," said Robb Blythe, Brown's sponsor.

The sponsor families come from all over Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley, Sahuarita, Silverbell and Vail. Retired military, prior service or civilians can all be sponsors but they must be at least 30 years of age. CAMP requires a sponsor family to complete an application which includes a questionnaire, a letter of introduction and letters of recommendation. After completing the application and being approved, the families and Airmen begin their time together.

"Being a part of the CAMP program is such a great experience. All it takes is a little time and effort on both parties part. Whether you are doing activities together or just lending an ear to listen, it is rewarding to all those involved," said Blythe.

For more information on CAMP or to become a sponsor please visit, www.dmsponsorprogram.com.

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