RAF Alconbury Welcomes Defender Babies

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jennifer Zima
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs
The 423rd Security Forces Squadron at RAF Alconbury welcomed 13 newborn babies in 2018. The new parents are adjusting to caring for their newborns and working as Air Force defenders. RAF Alconbury strives to make the transition to parenthood easier for servicemembers.

“It was very nerve-racking when we found out,” said Senior Airman Heather Ricks, Rylan’s mother and commander secretary for the 423rd SFS.

Rylan Ricks was born at RAF Lakenheath on Friday, April 13, 2018. His father, SrA Derek Ricks, Emergency Control Center Controller for the 423rd SFS, traveled to Lakenheath to be with his wife for the Stork Nesting program before birth. Since Lakenheath is the nearest location for maternal care, this program provides the opportunity for expecting parents to move into a hotel two weeks before the due date. Although it wasn’t easy, the leadership of the 423rd SFS made it possible for Derek to be with Heather the full two weeks before the due date.

“I thought it was going to be a lot more stressful and more difficult to do,” said Heather. “Once we got our ducks in a row everything just fell into place, it was wonderful.”

The couple looked at each other as they recalled the ways they felt supported during their transition to becoming parents.

“My flight chief at the time messaged and called us at least once a day, saying ‘Hey is everything okay, do you need anything?’” said Derek. “They kept in touch with us.”

Maj. Brian Rutt, the 423rd SFS Commander, and his wife, Carissa Rutt, also welcomed their son Carter on Dec. 20, 2018 at RAF Lakenheath.

“A lot of changes that the Air Force has done, as far as the changes in the paternity leave to allow more time for the servicemember to spend with the family is definitely beneficial,” said Brian. “With him, I was able to take the full 21 days. It was good to have that opportunity to be at home with Carissa, Carter and Aspen.”

As security forces commander, Brian works firsthand with defender servicemembers who have recently had babies.

“With us being such a small unit of 130 active duty personnel, it was surprising to see this many babies within a unit this small.” said Brian. “You can look at it as that expanding defender family.”

Carissa is the security forces’ Key Spouse program mentor. The program primarily assists families of servicemembers who have deployed or are on an assignment, but they provide support for all security forces’ families. Some of the ways they provide assistance is through meal trains, starter tote bags with basic baby necessities and working to resolve issues for new parents.

“The main focus is continuing to take care of the servicemembers,” said Brian. “Linking current mothers with the new mothers to pass on some of the challenges that they’ll experience.”

Carissa shared some of her own experiences. She encourages servicemembers to bring forward their questions or problems to channel them up to the leadership. She suggests not just accepting the situation, but that members fight to get the services they deserve and need.

“I know when I was pregnant, there were a few hiccups in my medical care that were frustrating, and it was just miscommunication,” said Carissa.
Carissa laughed as she said, “People say ‘How many people are due in your unit now? What’s in the water over there?’”

One of the ways RAF Alconbury helps expecting parents is by providing a workshop called Bundles for Babies.

“Bundles for Babies is an Air Force Aide Society-sponsored program,” said Kate Scarbrough, Community Readiness Specialist at the Airman and Family Readiness Center. “The biggest focus of the program is the finance side.”

The workshop consists of speakers from different organizations that provide helpful information to families with new children, including the Commander’s Support Staff, Family Advocacy Program, Educational and Developmental Intervention Services, Military & Family Life Consultant Program, Child Development Center, WIC Overseas, Tricare, dental and financial counselors. The attendees go home with a $50 Exchange gift card and lots of goodies from the vendors.

“We don’t have very large classes, but there is that community and the chance to reach out to other spouses in similar situations,” said Scarbrough. “This year we’ve introduced four Bundles for Babies workshops.”

The classes are open to expectant parents, and parents with infants up to three months.