Scott Air Force Base News

COMMENTARY: Celebrate family, blessings this holiday season

As I take pause and think about the up and coming upon holidays, the word “family” resonates. November is Military Family Month so this is quite appropriate.

Webster defines “family” as, “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children or a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head.” Many of us identify this as family in the most traditional sense.

Coming from this basic understanding of family, I have always embraced the “military family.” As military members, we live to serve our country and maintain the honor and freedoms for which our forefathers died. We are all brothers and sisters in arms.

However, being military members, family has a very non-traditional outlook. Throughout the last 19 years of military service, my definition of family has definitely not been textbook. Having been reared by my mom and grandma in a small North Carolina town, I defined family by blood relationships and whoever put food in your mouth. My grandmother used to say, family means love for one another and it does not matter what you look like or where you come from.

Coming from this basic understanding of family, I have always embraced the “military family.” As military members, we live to serve our country and maintain the honor and freedoms for which our forefathers died. We are all brothers and sisters in arms.

The public sector does not always see or understand the true sacrifices that our families make daily because we serve. Do they understand the countless tears a spouse sheds alone while their military member is TDY or not getting home until after dinner?

The new parent who welcomed the birth of their first child via SKYPE while deployed to Afghanistan for six months? I personally experienced a time when I was apart from my daughter for two months for flight school before she was a year old. When I finally returned she did not remember me and how my heart broke. Fortunately, she remembered my voice and so I continued our old routine. When she woke in the morning, I was back in her eyes and she never forgot me again.

My hat is off to the military child who is always moving to a new school and making new friends, sometimes every two years. Then having mommy or daddy miss that first big solo performance at the band concert. Fortunately, kids are resilient and adapt wherever they go. My daughter loves meeting other military kids because they “get it” and do not have to explain “why I move so much or why my mom is not here.” They share a common thread.

As military families, we share and understand the price of service. We lift each other up through encouraging words and kind gestures. Recently a fellow military mom made my day in saying, “I appreciate you and I just wanted you to know that.”

Although I am not married, I truly admire the bond of dual military families and those who choose to live geographically separated. Marriage itself is challenging and the demands of service place an additional strain.

I have seen couples be very creative to overcome their separation. One of my nurses would plan mini-getaways monthly with her husband until stationed together. Another friend chose to live as a bachelor to allow stability for his wife and kids across country.

As military families, we share and understand the price of service. We lift each other up through encouraging words and kind gestures. Recently a fellow military mom made my day in saying, “I appreciate you and I just wanted you to know that.” The theme of the Air Force Ball this year was “Together We Lift” and I find it quite fitting to the military family.

To answer our nation’s call requires the support from each other, our family and the surrounding community especially when our “family” is not present. Let us honor our military family this month as we give thanks for all the wonderful blessings that flow while we celebrate Thanksgiving as a country.

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