Recognizing resilience of the military family

Maj. Christopher Butler, 21st Space Operations Squadron, Detachment 2 commander

Maj. Christopher Butler, 21st Space Operations Squadron, Detachment 2 commander


Having been raised in the home of a Marine veteran with a proud family lineage of World War II veterans, honor and service has always been part of my upbringing. I had the unique opportunity to travel frequently as a child due to my father’s military experience as an aircraft maintainer.  Home was always where and what we made it due to the demands of his job on our family.  The mechanism that kept things together for us was resiliency, and without it things could have been tougher. 

Throughout my 17-year military career, I have found no matter where in the world you are assigned, having your family there to support you is the most valuable thing. 

Although most military families come from differing backgrounds, military families typically have a number of life experiences in common.  A form of similarity can come from having to move from place to place.  The military family shares in the excitement of going on a new adventure that service to our country brings, but these moves also come with stress. 

My parents always prepared us as a family to handle a new environment, whether it was a new neighborhood or friends, but what was truly memorable was we experienced everything together.  Now in the Air Force, with a family of my own, my wife and I have both made it a point to try to involve ourselves to support fellow military families.  This has not always been easy to do because of life’s challenges, but looking back, it has made us stronger and we’re better for it.

The resiliency of the military family has always been remarkable despite its constant challenges. 

An Airman can be called to deploy at any time, but if he or she is having trouble on the home front, then undoubtedly they will find it more difficult to ensure their job performance is at its highest peak.  Loved ones left behind also feel the struggles of deployment.  When I was deployed early in my career, my extended Air Force family and faith fortified my own personal resiliency when my immediate family was not there.  Back at home, it was the local neighbors and unit spouses providing my wife and children care during my absence, which I will never forget.      

This is not to say only a military member with a spouse and dependents is a family. A family does not have to be limited to the traditionally known construct.  Family is what you believe it to be, to include a family of fellow Airmen.  This is one reason being a good wingman is so crucial in this profession.  

A family can also be whatever support structure is available to an Airman that helps maintain personal stability in a stressful and demanding environment.  This sense of belonging elevates every Airman to be more resilient and mission ready.

In closing, I would like to end with a quote I believe explains why resiliency and the military family are interconnected.  According to G.K. Chesterton, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”  Today, we are all a part of the same military family across all services, a family that supports one another in defending the nation and staying resilient for those we hold dear.