By Lt. Col. Andrew Gawlikowski, 375th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron
/ Published July 30, 2021
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill -- We all see it, we all know it, but we don’t always recognize it. What I am talking about is the great sacrifice our families make for our ability to serve. The importance of this sacrifice cannot be understated. The military life is unique in the fact that the whole family sacrifices for the member or members to serve their country. Just this week I spoke with two families that have deployed spouses. One missed all the birthdays and multiple hospital trips for their children, and the other missed the birth of his third son. While the military member makes sacrifices to serve, our families also give up a lot to support us, and this life of service can take a beating on them physically and emotionally. Our nation is grateful for the continued sacrifices of our military, but sometimes what our families go through goes mostly unnoticed.
Let us not forget our Mil-Mil families. It is true that many civilian families have both parents working, and while challenging, it is quite different to wear the uniform and have the added responsibilities the military asks of us. The dichotomy of serving and parenting is not easy. Many times one member is deployed and the spouse stays back to serve and hold down the fort. Or when mission dictates, one member must change their schedule so the other member can step up to provide family support.
These families serve when there are no accolades. No parade. Not even a pat on the back. It just gets done. All this makes me sit back and think over the years how many have gone before us and how many have and continue to make these sacrifices. It never ceases to amaze me how mil-mil service members are some of the most level-headed, servant leaders I have encountered. Truly inspiring.
For my family, we have not been the exception. We are not mil-mil, but we have five children and in 2014 I was deployed and attached to an Army Advisory Brigade. My wife was pregnant with our third daughter and was due during the deployment. Knowing I was going to miss the birth was difficult for both her and I. To top it off, she had an emergency surgery post-delivery and I was not there to support her. She was ok, but it was tough for our family as a whole. These situations can make or break a family. We have to remember that WE are family in the military, and we have a duty to take care of one another. No one besides our brothers and sisters in-arms can fully understand the impact that this military life has on our marriages and children. We can help one another know how to remain resolute in our service and support our families while serving this great country.
This uniform we wear is a symbol of honor, and truthfully only those who have worn it and currently wear it know the reality of the sacrifices made. While never easy, serving is the greatest calling on one’s life. It is good to recognize the challenges, accept the hardship, and be there for one another. As a military service-member, a husband, and a father, I want you to know that you are seen. I want my wife and children to know they are seen. While all that you give may not always be returned, I assure you it is not lost. What you give is a gift that no one can repay. Your service and your sacrifice is noticed, whether you wear the uniform or you love someone who does. Your country thanks you and so do I.