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Pay tribute to our military spouses and children

  • Published
  • By By Col. Kyle Kremer
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing
Today marks the end of the Month of the Military Child and the beginning of Military Spouse Appreciation Month. In the midst of all the turmoil from force shaping programs and budgetary challenges, it is a fitting time to pay special tribute to the unsung heroes who allow us to focus on the mission and navigate these turbulent times--our military families.
Every time Deb and I attend a Hearts Apart event for spouses of deployed members and their children, I marvel at their strength and resilience. I am blown away by their incredible positive attitude and willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. Just this past weekend, I heard multiple stories of near back-to-back deployments due to career field demands, and while that has made it challenging at home, they felt it was the right thing to do for the mission and their spouse's career. Air Force, Army and Navy spouses alike, the stories were all similar to include military married to military.

I am likewise in awe of the resilience of our military children. We ask a lot of them. Frequent moves (usually right as they get settled and establish good friends) and long separations due to TDYs and deployments often precludes a parent's attendance at significant life and school events. Yet, somehow they seem to grow stronger from it.

My heart grows warm every time I look out my window at 5 p.m. and see a group of kids of various ages halt whatever game or activity they are in middle of playing, face the direction of the flag, place their hand over their heart and honor the flag at retreat. Of course that is often followed by a grin on my face as one kid inevitably yells, "play ball!" at the end of the last note. Gotta love those kids! We are incredibly blessed by their resilience, and in large part we have our spouses to thank for it.

None of us could be as effective in what we do if it weren't for the support we receive at home. Our military spouses not only ensure the resilience of our children, often as a single parent, but also directly contribute to our collective success.

Our commanders' spouses don't have official positions or get paid to fill them, yet they step up to lead the efforts of fellow spouses to promote morale, camaraderie and support for unit personnel and their families. Our Key Spouses work closely with commanders and First Sergeants to assist those spouses who need additional support due to challenging personal circumstances or separation caused by deployments. Our Spouse Clubs not only provide an opportunity for social engagement, but also support our base, its personnel and their families through volunteerism, fundraising support and scholarship opportunities, just to name a few.
Often, the contributions of our spouses go unnoticed or underappreciated, but they are no less important. Just ask Airman Leadership School students how important their spouses were to their ability to succeed in the course. Late hours studying, weekend group work ... it was all critical to graduating, yet takes a toll at home. The same holds true to off-duty education and preparing for promotion testing. Often the spouses have their own work and education pressures, not to mention caring for the children, yet they somehow find a way to ensure we can get our work done without fail.

So as we wrap up the Month of the Military Child and enter Military Spouse Appreciation Month, I ask you to take a moment to recognize the tremendous sacrifice our families make on a daily basis and not take them for granted. There will be times when we are separated from them and unable to be there when we would like or even when they need us. So make sure you take advantage of the time you do have to spend with them.
You can never get back those early years with your children before they "leave the nest."

Don't let them slip away as often quality of time is better than quantity. Make the most of the time you have, and when you can't be there, recognize the extra efforts of your spouse to keep the family going while you focus on the mission. They are the glue that holds us together and enables us to do what we do. Let's make sure we show them how much they are truly appreciated!