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9 March 2010, 06:13
A new single parent support group at Suffolk's RAF Mildenhall will start later month.
It's been formed to assist both single parents and those who find themselves as the sole parent due to deployments.
The idea was a long time in the making and actually started when Sergeant Meyer was stationed at RAF Fairford and became the single parent of his three children.
"At the time, my twin boys were 4 and my daughter was 10, and I was lucky enough to have a lot of friends and family in the area that could help me out," said the Rochester, Minn., native who through an international marriage gained several British family members in the RAF Fairford area.
As a single parent, the master sergeant found himself drawn to other single parents, he said. They seemed to have a common denominator in being single parents.
"We'd see each other at the child development center, our kids played together, we discussed the same issues and complained about the same problems,"
Because RAF Fairford was so small, Sergeant Meyer didn't feel the base really had the infrastructure to support a full-blown group but still formed an informal network of single parents who helped each other as much as they could with whatever issues popped up.
"We provided childcare for each other, we used each other to vent problems, seek advice and things like that," he said. "I was a little luckier than others at Fairford because I remained close to my ex-wife's family in the area, and they helped out quite a lot when I was TDY or deployed ... or assigned to Korea for a year."
After Korea, Sergeant Meyer followed on to RAF Mildenhall and from hitting the ground here was determined to start a Mildenhall-based single parent support group. After talking to Ms. Moore and Jennifer Inman at Family Advocacy, he discovered hundreds of parents at both Lakenheath and Mildenhall could benefit from the group.
This group will be run by single parents for single parents.
"Between the two bases, we have approximately 170 single parents, not including the hundreds of temporary single parents who have deployed spouses and are facing the same challenges as other single parents," said Sergeant Meyer. "Because most people overseas are away from the direct family support they might get if stationed back in the states, this group offers another avenue of support they usually wouldn't have."
"Sometimes it's nice to talk to other people who have already walked a mile in your shoes," he said.
Sergeant Meyer invites anyone to attend the groups first meeting, scheduled for March 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the RAF Lakenheath Airman & Family Readiness Center.
To sign up for the single parent support group, members can call Sergeant Meyer at 01638 545127, or DSN at 238-5127, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.