The Real Unsung Heroes

By Senior Master Sgt. Kevin R. Shane
20th Reconnaissance Squadron

In the fast paced tempo of today’s operational environment, I’m often thousands of miles away from home due to temporary duties, deployments or training.

As I am off doing what I have loved for over twenty-five years at various locations, I find myself asking: Do I thank my spouse and family enough, or even at all?

Did I thank them for everything they do for me and this great country? Did I thank them for the numerous sacrifices they have made while allowing me to take care of the Air Force mission and the people I am responsible for?

Unfortunately, the answer is all too often — no. In my opinion, our spouses and family are the true silent heroes, facing more demands and bigger challenges than most military members.

Even though our spouses did not sign up for this journey, they are right by our side from the initial notification, through training, and right up to us stepping on that aircraft to support and defend.

Putting things into perspective, I think we, as military members, have it much easier, regardless of our rank and position. Once downrange, we simply have to perform our duties and take care of the mission, ourselves and our fellow servicemembers.

But our spouses and family endure more challenges than most of us. More often than not, these challenges seem to increase exponentially once we are gone. Bottom line, not only do our spouses have to maintain their normal day-to-day routines, but they also have to adopt the responsibilities we would normally execute when we are home.

We are often paid tribute due to our service and our personal sacrifices for this country, yet our spouses and family members live in a 365-day high-operations tempo environment, whether we are here or over there, doing what our country has asked of us.

Their time and lives, both personally and professionally, are constantly challenged by our service requirements, yet they continue to be the foundation for our success. I would not be where I am today if it were not for the love (sometimes tough love) and support that my wife has given me.

Many times, while off base or traveling in uniform, our fellow Americans express their gratitude by thanking us for our service. In my mind, that gratitude truly belongs to our spouses and families for allowing us to do what is asked of us.

So, once again, I ask all servicemembers the question, do we thank our spouses and family enough? Do we let them know how much we love them and appreciate them for their sacrifices?

In my case, I think not. I don’t believe that we can ever thank them enough, but here is a start:

“Thank you for your dedication, commitment and love. Thank you for ensuring that our families are taken care of as we, the servicemembers, walk on foreign sands. This enables us to go to sleep at night, knowing that our loved ones are safe and sound.”

“Thank you for your sacrifice!”