The pressures of serving in the Royal Air Force are no secret, especially during operations abroad where personnel can be away from home for extended periods of time. The RAF Benevolent Fund recently gave a grant to those currently stationed in Iraq. Here, a serving Flt Lt, describes how RAF Benevolent Fund funded home comforts can make all the difference to the morale and wellbeing of those living away from home...
Being away from home is inherent to service in the military and despite the excitement of travel, the professional satisfaction of doing what one has trained for and the new experiences gained, everyone feels the effects of separation from home at some point during their tour.
It is here that the smallest of home comforts can make a disproportionate difference and here that the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund can help. By supporting those serving abroad on the front line of current UK operations, the RAF Benevolent Fund provides an invaluable contribution towards maintaining the morale of RAF personnel and their families.
Although much can be achieved by a touch of DIY, sometimes funding is the real boost needed to make big changes. A recent deployment in Iraq has been the beneficiary of a generous grant from the RAF Benevolent Fund allowing a small 'welfare area' to be turned into a hub for film nights, BBQs, relaxing in the evening, and the showing of a seemingly unstoppable football World Cup campaign.
The area was robustly constructed but austere and functional, with the furniture showing signs of wear and tear. The RAF Benevolent Fund grant unlocked its potential, buying a projector, sound system, outdoor lighting, new tables and chairs, media cabinet, high-quality cables and plants.
It also paid for table-tennis and table-football tables, among other items that made a huge difference to hard-working personnel on camp. Group events such as showing sports matches, quiz nights and film nights make a hugely positive impact on camp cohesion and group morale. The grant also provided bedside lamps for all personnel and went towards a noise-dampening project for the Welfare Area; useful for personnel making phone calls home in the evening.
By supporting such projects, the RAF Benevolent Fund supports not only those deployed but also those friends and family at home. Communication is vital to maintaining relationships and morale on Ops and so measures to make this easier are vital. From all personnel serving abroad to the RAF Benevolent Fund, thank you!