AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Aviano's Integral Men, a new spouse group tailored to husbands of active-duty service members, held their inaugural event here Nov. 15. John Duarte, AIM's founding father, described the group as a reflection of a growing demographic that is often underrepresented. "I've been here since the end of June and I believe it's important to volunteer and get involved in the community as much as possible," Duarte said. "As I started to go to spouse's organizations and meetings, I noticed I was the only male, or one of two. Although the groups would invite men, they would rarely come out."
There was a divide, Duarte said. Spouses are often assumed to be women and at a commander's convention with his wife, Lt. Col. Rosie Duarte, the 31st Force Support Squadron commander, there was no exception. When spouses received their gift at the end of the event, Duarte got what every spouse did -- a broach. "My hopes are that we have a group that appeals to the male demographic and we'll have a stronger community involvement," Duarte said. To encourage male participation, AIM held their first event at the La Bella Vista Club, where attendees watched college football and had a cookout. "I'm thinking that if we get all the guys together for something like college football maybe we can get together for other events in the future," Duarte said. Some events Duarte hopes to hold in the future are tailgating at a soccer match, driving Ferraris at the test track, more college football Saturdays and cookouts. "I'm hoping AIM can serve as an outlet for some of the stress spouses deal with," he said. "I've been a school administrator for 28 years, I have my doctorate in education and I still don't have a job here. That's just an example of some things spouses are challenged with. In our group, you don't have to talk but just being around people who are going through the same problems as you could help."