The Family Connection
By Tech Sgt. John Hughel, 142FW/PA
/ Published March 07, 2012
Portland, Ore. -- When airmen from the Oregon Air National Guard deploy, their family and friends at home can sometimes face a barrage of hardship, need and concern. For the 116th Air Control Squadron, family volunteer Susan Murren has become the critical connection linking those at home with the resources they require.
"In the year and a half since I took this volunteer position, I've become really involved in all aspects of what it takes to help our families," said Murren.
The job of a family volunteer comes with many challenges from arranging events during deployment to the difficult family issues that come before the final homecoming celebration.
"The training that the Air National Guard family coordinators receive allows them to handle difficult situations like Susan has taken on," said Mary Bell, the Family Programs director for the 142nd Fighter Wing.
A big part of Bell's job is to find committed individuals like Murren, and get them the tools and training to keep focused on the unit and family members.
"I tell them to set goals and we have regular meetings to keep everyone informed," said Bell.
Murren works full time in the mortuary profession at Oregon Health Sciences University. Her specialized insight and training helped her with one particular hardship during the most recent deployment of the 116th Air Control Squadron to the Middle East. During this deployment, an airman's family member died and Murren made necessary calls and helped put the emergency in perspective for the rest of the deployed family elements.
"I just relied on all my training and knowing these members' needs, which allowed me to step in and help right away", said Murren.
Murren represents region 10 nationally and she was selected for the Regional Volunteer of the Year Award for 2011; an accomplishment for which she was recognized on February 25, at the Oregon Air National Guard Awards Banquet.
Murren said she will travel this summer to a national conference in Indiana for the formal presentation of her award by General Craig McKinley, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.