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The Village Outside Our Gate

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Colleen Coulthard
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

“The Village has invited leadership to come and visit from the beginning. It was a way to keep the community involved in knowing what we’re about. We get so much support from Eglin, it's important to work with leadership and find out ways that we can help them and they can help us,” said Vatima Ivy, director of development at the Air Force Enlisted Village.

Since the Air Force Enlisted Village Retirement home built its foundation 3 miles away from Eglin AFB, it has been a part of this military community. Each year inviting leadership and their spouse’s to visit, learn about the facilities, and become a part of the AFEV family.

“The most impactful thing that I see is the welcoming of new people; it doesn't matter if they're from different backgrounds, everyone is so welcoming and helpful, it's like a big family,” said Ivy, who served in the military for 25 years. “What's so special about this place is how everyone brings their experience from the military, but we all come together to do one common thing.”

Many of the retired military community continue to serve, but now at AFEV. Residents there can be found behind the information desks, collecting material for the library, running the till at the general store, cutting hair at the beauty shop, and starting their own groups and clubs.

“They haven't stopped their lives of service just because they have come to a retirement community,” said Ryan Price, director of sales at AFEV.

The village community reaches beyond the residents, into the military community at Eglin, and the 33rd FW. On a monthly and weekly basis, they offer a plethora of volunteer opportunities for family and personnel across the area. These range from large activities and events, to fundraising and beautification projects.

The AFEV is a nonprofit organization whose core mission is to provide safe, secure homes for surviving spouses of retired enlisted U.S. Airmen.

“This is a community of shared memories of living the military life,” said Price. “Here we understand the importance of the service of the spouse.”

If you are interested in volunteering with AFEV you can go to to get involved.