Scott Air Force Base News

MONTH OF THE MILITARY FAMILY: Single parent tackles difficult challenges

Nyla and Tyran stand with their mother, Tech. Sgt. Shonda Blanks, 375th Operations Support Squadron. Blanks knows her family is close, and possibly even closer after the unexpected passing of her daughter and her children’s sister, Iyana, from Sickle Cell Disease. As a family, they are each other’s rocks and represent the strength and resiliency that many military families face.
Nyla and Tyran stand with their mother, Tech. Sgt. Shonda Blanks, 375th Operations Support Squadron. Blanks knows her family is close, and possibly even closer after the unexpected passing of her daughter and her children’s sister, Iyana, from Sickle Cell Disease. As a family, they are each other’s rocks and represent the strength and resiliency that many military families face.

For one single-parent, tackling military life depends on the strength and resilience of her children.

Tech. Sgt. Shonda Blanks is the 375th Operations Support Squadron commander’s support staff NCO in charge and is mom to Tyran and Nyla. Together they make a tenacious, compassionate, loyal and fun family, she said.

Our family is unique in that we know each other so well. You can ask one of us a question about a member of our household when one of us is not around. When that person is around, he or she will duplicate the answer previously given by the other family member.

Tech. Sgt. Shonda Blanks, 375th Operations Support Squadron commander’s support staff NCOIC

“Our family is unique in that we know each other so well,” said Blanks. “You can ask one of us a question about a member of our household when one of us is not around. When that person is around, he or she will duplicate the answer previously given by the other family member.”

Their interconnectedness has proven vital in some of the most difficult times, allowing the family to become closer and more resilient despite an unfathomable tragedy.

“The hardest thing I had to endure in my personal military life is the death of my daughter, Iyana,” said Blanks.

Thinking back to her 2007 Iraq deployment, Blanks recalled her lessons learned. Though a frightening experience, her attitude allowed it to become what she says was the best memory of her military career.

Iyana, who Blanks characterized as someone with consistent positive energy, passed away at 15 due to Sickle Cell Disease.

In helping the family to heal, Tyran wrote a song about his sister.

“I know (you’re) a guardian angel for me, Nyla, and mamma,” states an excerpt in Tyran’s lyrics, “Thank you for the 15 years—thank you!”

Together, this family learned to use the support of each other and cherish every moment.

Nyla said, “We stick by each other ... Stuff might happen; we just got to work it out.”

Along with the death of Iyana, the children said that the absences of their mother is one of the most difficult things they have to endure. Still, Tyran says he is thankful for his mom’s service, as well as all of the other past and present military members.

Thinking back to her 2007 Iraq deployment, Blanks recalled a frightening experience that changed her outlook on military service.

It gave me a great appreciation of what a veteran is and the sacrifices of the many who came before me—some paying with their lives. It taught me to put my trust in God. It showed me (to not) take life for granted and to love those who love you more.

Tech. Sgt. Shonda Blanks, 375th OSS commander’s support staff NCOIC said reflecting on her 2007 Iraq deployment

“There were bombings going on,” recalled Blanks. “I had to be in a Kevlar vest and helmet everywhere. I remember waking up to mortars. It was a scary time, but it also taught me valuable lessons. It gave me a great appreciation of what a veteran is and the sacrifices of the many who came before me—some paying with their lives. It taught me to put my trust in God. It showed me (to not) take life for granted and to love those who love you more.”

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