Strengthening families

Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. -- As I approach the tail end of a one-year remote tour on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, I have been contemplating the most significant inspiration in helping me serve—family.

On the surface, the Air Force core value “Service Before Self,” may appear to contradict familial needs; after all, service often demands sacrifice, and sacrifice may necessitate leaving family for some time.

Nevertheless, “Service Before Self” does not exempt us from taking care of our families. In fact, strengthening our families will only enhance our commitment to serve. Proper education, thorough preparation, and sincere appreciation will greatly aid in fostering a stronger family in the midst of dedicated military service.

All service members and their respective families contribute immensely to the protection of our great nation. Whether an operator, maintainer, defender, or any other position, every role is essential to mission success because the Air Force operates as a team.

Without crossing the lines of classification, educating our families for the vital part they play in the defense of our nation will only strengthen the resolve to support. This is especially true during periods of prolonged separation such as deployments.

Most people have an inherent desire to matter, be important, or contribute to a greater cause. Certainly, our families matter, are important, and contribute—therefore, we should articulate this to them often.

Despite deployments, temporary duties, or extra-long hours, we are responsible for preparing our families appropriately. Thankfully, the Air Force offers a number of valuable resources to assist our families in times of extended separation or unexpected emergencies. Furthermore, service members are required to maintain a certain level of personal readiness in the event of last minute deployments.

Maintaining a state of readiness not only aids in responding quickly to unforeseen circumstances, but it also provides a sense of mental preparedness for our families and us.

The late William James, known as the father of American psychology, stated, “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”

By signing on the dotted line and volunteering to serve, we, to a certain extent, forced our families into military life. As deeply committed Airmen, we relish the opportunity to serve. Yet, as we adventure, our families remain trapped in the day-to-day routine of maintaining domestic affairs and have to endure life’s challenges in our absence.

The simple act of offering sincere appreciation uplifts spirits and alleviates strain. Appreciation provides a sense of comfort and functions as a valuable tool for our loved ones in helping to cope with the stresses of military life.

Whether a spouse, significant other, child, parent, sibling, or friend, the definition of family is up for personal interpretation. Regardless of whomever you call your family, we owe them deep and sincere gratitude for backing us up while we serve in whatever capacity the Air Force deems essential in fulfilling its needs. Our families are integral in helping us accomplish the mission, and preparing them appropriately will greatly enhance their capacity to support, and likewise, our ability to fight.