LANCASTER — The Edwards AFB Civilian-Military Support Group welcomed foreign military members and Airmen recently stationed at Edwards to the Antelope Valley Jan. 29. The University of Antelope Valley Pioneer Event Center (PEC) in Lancaster was filled with informational booths regarding health care, education, recreation and much more.
The third annual “Welcome to the AV” event was designed to show allied military members the resources that the Antelope Valley has to offer. This year, the invitation was also extended to U.S. military members that are new to the area.
“When our military goes overseas, they show up at their base, everything is there… When foreign military comes here, it’s not like that, they have to start from scratch,” said John Fergione, Edwards AFB Civ-Mil president.
According to Fergione, the event was moved to the PEC because they had outgrown their previous venue with 46 vendors and around 100 guests that registered to attend.
All military members and their families were invited to talk to vendors and enjoy a catered meal at no charge.
Civ-Mil is a non-profit organization that has been working for the last 26 years to improve the quality of life for residents of Edwards AFB. Every year, the group spends as much as it can afford on projects at Edwards.
“The [program] I kind of like the most, and it’s an on-going program, is the Edwards emergency relief fund,” said Fergione.
“On any given week an Airman needs something that hasn’t been thought of. He might need to take a child down to L.A. and he doesn’t have a car seat, so okay, give them a car seat. A young Airman needs to go out of state for a funeral – can’t afford it, give them a plane ticket.”
Civ-Mil is also credited with building the flag park across on Edwards and donating three sets of replacement flags each year. With the wind and weather at Edwards, one set of 56 flags will last around four months. They have also donated to the Airman’s Attic and Higher Grounds internet café.
“It’s part of our mission to make life easier for our military at Edwards,” said Fergione. “This year the question never came up do we want to do another [“Welcome to the AV”], the question was, what date do we want to do the third one?”