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Scott Sergeant balances work and single motherhood

Tech. Sgt. Jeanette Wilinski, Air Force Reserve Command Readiness Management Group manning control and special operations assistant NCOIC, is the mother of Elizabeth, Logan and Alexis.  As a single mom, she has to find a balance between taking care of the Air Force mission and taking care of her children.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

Tech. Sgt. Jeanette Wilinski, Air Force Reserve Command Readiness Management Group manning control and special operations assistant NCOIC, is the mother of Elizabeth, Logan and Alexis. As a single mom, she has to find a balance between taking care of the Air Force mission and taking care of her children. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- According to Defense Department statistics, approximately 146,000 single military parents served in 2008,. This accounts for 6.6 percent of the total force and 5.3 percent of active-duty personnel. There are 15,000 single parents in the Air Force and female service members are twice as likely to be single parents.

Tech. Sgt. Jeanette Wilinski, Air Force Reserve Command Readiness Management Group manning control and special operations assistant NCOIC, is a 28-year-old single mom to three young children, ages 8, 5 and 4.

"Being a single mom, I have no one to call if my kids get sick or hurt," Wilinski said. "It's all on me to take care of them. There's a mission and I can't always get time off. Sometimes, the kids and the military conflict, so I have to figure something out that will work for both sides."

This single mother's day begins before the sun comes up because she has a lot to accomplish before she goes to work. Her children have to be fed, and she has to drop her two daughters off at school and her son off at the Child Development Center before arriving at work at 7:30 a.m.

Her supervisor, Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Cassity said, "She has a lot of responsibilities to juggle. She's proactive and has a game plan. She tries to find solutions and has a positive attitude."

Though her life is chaotic, she finds that a strict schedule helps make life easier on the whole family.

"We have a fixed routine," Wilinski said. "Weekdays are the same--from the time we get up in the morning to the time we go to bed.

"Life is completely hectic in every way. But, it's an incredible feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day."

Her children's fathers are not in the military, and that sometimes complicates her situation.

"I have conflict with them because they are civilians and don't understand the military requirements," Wilinski said. "I have to do volunteer hours, which are encouraged by the military. Sometimes I need a babysitter. It's hard figuring out a schedule that works for everyone."

Wilinski volunteers as a victim advocate for the sexual assault response and prevention office, coaches volleyball to 12 year-old-girls, and is pursuing her bachelor's degree in secondary teaching and history.

The Air Force provided programs such as Military OneSource, Airmen and Family Readiness Center and the Airman's Attic, for assistance to those seeking it.

"I have received help from these resources," Wilinski said. "No single parent can go through certain ordeals without any help."

In addition to receiving help from the military, she also has surrounded herself with a support system.

"My mom is a huge support," she said. "I have very supportive friends, here and across the country, who I can contact when I'm losing my mind and want to pull my hair out."

With all the struggles she faces daily with her family, she said she finds it to be extremely rewarding.

"No matter what happens, I make it work, and the kids are taken care of," Wilinski said. "I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm their mom, and I'm proud to serve in the military."