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Kadena empowers spouses with new coworking space

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sebastian Romawac
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

The Okinawa Remote Work Collective, a group primarily made up of military spouses, held a ribbon cutting ceremony signifying the grand opening of their new coworking space located in the Education Center at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Aug. 11, 2023. 


Until now, no professional working spaces uniquely tailored to military spouses have existed on Kadena.


“I believe it is so important to support our military spouses in their educational and professional careers,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Laura Ramos, 18th Mission Support Group commander. “This coworking space not only supports our military spouses here at Kadena, but also supports Mrs. Sharene Brown’s Five & Thrive initiative for quality of life improvements for spouses military-wide.”


The Five & Thrive initiative focuses on the top five quality of life challenges military families face – childcare, education, healthcare, housing and spouse employment.


These challenges are directly tied to military family readiness, resilience, and retention of the force. These areas were selected based on feedback from military families and surveys conducted by Blue Star Families, Military OneSource, the Military Family Advisory Network and other organizations.


According to Blue Star Families’ yearly military family study, 43% of active duty families surveyed said spousal unemployment is an issue for them. The study also found that 20% of military spouses in the labor force are unemployed and actively seeking work, compared to 6% for their civilian counterparts.


In November 2022, members of the Okinawa Remote Work Collective took the initiative to create a positive solution to military spouse unemployment issues and the lack of professional work spaces available. Military spouses Erin Mirante, Kelsey Morrison and Kathryn Roche took charge of the project.


“Our goal was to provide a dedicated workspace for remote workers, college students and other professional and career minded individuals,” said Mirante, Okinawa Remote Work Collective member. “Ideally, this space will provide a consistent and reliable work environment as well as a community to those who feel isolated working from home every day.”


In the nine months of work leading up to the grand opening of the space, several 18th Wing units, such as the 18th Mission Support Group, 18th Civil Engineer Group, 718th Force Support Squadron, Kadena Education Center and Kadena Military & Family Readiness Center, supported the Okinawa Remote Working Group with donations and volunteers to make the space a reality.


The space is available to be used by adult Department of Defense ID cardholders for professional work and educational purposes. Services and amenities available include internet, individual workstations, dual monitors, standing desks, a white board and a SMART board, allowing users to easily engage in networking, education and community outreach. 


The space is located in Room 133 of the Kadena Education Center and open hours are posted on the groups Facebook page “RWC Okinawa Coworking Space.”