Tag Archives: children

Dealing with family stress through respect, communication

AF Healthy Family LifeBy Lesley Lanier, family life educator
502d Force Support Squadron

It is proven that when dealing with stress, perception is reality. Although we experience stress in many facets of life, the most frequent and intense stressor happens to be within our families. This is usually the hardest form of stress to contend with because of our own emotional investment. There are four main reasons that support the increased turmoil within families. They include:

  1. Different levels of power and status, leading to members frequently challenging each other
  2. Sacrifice and compromise are required for the good of the family as a whole
  3. Children grow, hence more changes
  4. Emotions leading to jealousy, control, love, pride, ownership and privacy

Knowing that stressful situations with family are inevitable, it’s how we manage it that can make the difference. What’s the most effective way to manage stress within your home? A common response would be constructively. But what does that entail? Simply put, identify the stressor, and choose your resolution. This can be achieved by basing your approach on mutual respect, communication and compromise.

Remember, as parents, it’s us who set the standard for resolving conflict. Our awareness of our parenting style will also help us as we go through challenging times. The Joint Base San Antonio Family Life Program offers a great class, called Screamfree Parenting, created by Hal Runkel, a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist. This approach enables you to “raise your children by keeping your cool.” Screamfree Parenting is based on three principles:

  1. Parenting is not about kids, it’s about parents
  2. If you’re not under control, then you can’t be in charge
  3. Growing up is hard to do, especially for grownups

To register for a Screamfree class at JBSA, call the Family Life Program at 210-221-1505.

PHOTO: The Novotny family gathers around the table before brothers, Lt. Col. Ryan and Maj. Reid Novotny, get together for a marathon run. (Air Force photo by Senior Airman Carlin Leslie/Released)

Mountains

 By Senior Master Sgt. Kathleen McCool
Air Force Recruiting Service

While on an aircraft recently my seven-year-old son pointed out the window and asked me what was below. As I replied “mountains” he got a strange look on his face and said “that’s funny, they don’t look so tall from up here.” Senior Master Sgt. McCool

As I reflected on what he said I realized his statement mirrored my career. As I was looking ahead at each challenge I faced, the mountains appeared so tall, but as I climbed them and looked back down I discovered they weren’t as tall as I thought they were.

My first “mountain” came on the morning of Aug. 3, 1995, when my dad drove me to the Military Entrance Processing Station in Phoenix, Ariz. I can remember it as if it was yesterday — standing under the fluorescent lights outside the building. The fear that had been building over the last year in the Delayed Entry Program was now staring me in the face. I was leaving home for the first time to attend Basic Military Training (BMT). The “mountain” seemed enormous and I almost begged my dad to take me back home, but his words of encouragement were the reason I was able to walk into the building that morning and survive the next six weeks of basic.

It wasn’t until three years later when I returned to BMT that I realized the “mountain” didn’t seem so tall. These experiences continued throughout my career as a health services apprentice, a member of the base honor guard, a military training instructor and here in recruiting duty. I have been fortunate to have many mentors and peers along the way who made the climb much more enjoyable. As you face mountains, find someone to help with your climb and know that someday you will be able to look back on each “mountain” in a different light.

Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Kathleen McCool (right), Air Force Recruiting Service recruiter screening team superintendent, counsels a prospective recruiter. She was recognized as the Air Education and Training Command senior noncommissioned officer of the year for 2010. (courtesy photo)

Strength, courage on the home front

By Staff Sgt. Nicholas BreamSgt Bream and the 387th ELRS
96th Logistics Readiness Squadron

I was afforded the opportunity to share a heartfelt story of my experience while I was deployed on convoy duty in Iraq. The Learning Channel (TLC) came to my house before I arrived home and recorded the strength and courage that it takes my wife Nicole and three children, Amanda, Joseph, and Jessi to carry on everyday life while I am deployed.

The Learning Channel wanted service members who were deployed and had a special family event they wanted to share. In my case, when I was deployed in 2008 on convoy duty, Nicole gave birth to my son Joseph in Germany with only her friends by her side as I was on mission and could not be there with her. It was almost six months before I got home and the only way Joseph knew me was through a webcam and the sound of my voice. But as soon as he saw me he knew exactly who I was. And then in March of 2011 she gave birth to my daughter Jessi while I was not due back for another six weeks. I sat back and thought to myself “Wow.” I can’t imagine what it must be like to do that by herself and still take care of our other children and attend college full time.

Amanda and Nicole enjoyed watching shows about military members reuniting with family members after a deployment. One evening Amanda asked me via webcam if “Mommy and Daddy could surprise her like that when I came home.” I was excited to be able to surprise her like she wanted and to be able to share it with other people. After a few months of going back and forth with ideas we finally decided that we would make the show about my daughter getting her Girl Scout “Strength and Courage” badge awarded. Amanda helped out Nicole in every way that a 6 year old could. Amanda stepped up to take my place helping around the house, picking up the living room and folding laundry.

From that point on I handed the planning over to Nicole and the Girl Scout leader Elizabeth to work with the production crew. They set it up to be recorded at my home in Florida during a Girl Scout meeting. They invited a local fire fighter to talk about how much strength and courage it takes to do his job. After talking about that for a few minutes he then moved to introduce me, saying how it took more strength and courage to do my job overseas in hostile environments.

They all worked it perfectly so that when I got home from the airport all I had to do was walk in the door and surprise Amanda and her Girl Scout troop. She had no idea I was coming home yet and she was in total shock that her dad was the one to award her this achievement. After I surprised Amanda, Nicole had a surprise for me — getting to see my daughter Jessi for the first time in person since she was born. Up until then I had only seen her via webcam and pictures Nicole sent me. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to finally hold her.

I have deployed two times, and both times they have been for more than six months. Every military member, myself included, has to be ready at a moment’s notice to pick up and go somewhere else for duty. Whether it is for one day or 12 months we are not the ones who have it hard. It’s the family and loved ones we leave behind who are expected to carry on daily life without us.

Photo: Airmen with the 387th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance flight deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation New Dawn from September 2010 to April 2011.

Never forget

By Senior Airman Grovert Fuentes-Contreras
Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul

QALAT CITY, Afghanistan — It was a day like any other, but one I’ll never forget; it was beautiful, with the sun rising behind the New York City skyline. I was a seventh grader sitting in class waiting for my teacher to call attendance.

Nothing seemed different from the day prior. Children were in the corner rushing to finish last night’s homework as the teacher was walking in with her bag full of books in her right hand and coffee in her left.

“One of my students says he just saw a plane go in the twin towers,” says Michele Mortoral with worry in her voice as she is rushing into my class.

“Tell him to stop kidding around,” jokingly says Jane Lynch, my seventh grade teacher.

My classmates are rushing to the windows to see one of the twin towers on fire, with dark smoke rising into the beautiful blue sky. The sky is beginning to turn gray, as if it is about to rain. My friends are beginning to panic and the teachers are trying to calm us to the best of their ability. There is fear and worry in the room. I am staring out the window wondering; “Why is this happening…Did the pilot fall asleep…Isn’t there a co-pilot?”

We are starting to wonder where our families are. I’m worrying about where my father could be. He is a messenger and does trips between North Jersey and New York City daily. There are days where he has to go in and out of New York City about six times a day. My mother is at her restaurant taking orders, like every other morning.

The teachers at Lincoln School are working really hard trying to continue class to keep it off our minds, but there is no way that is possible. I switch classes, from homeroom to math class. Ms. Rachel Mullane is teaching in front of the class.

Some of my classmates are staring out the window, looking at one of the twin towers burning the sky with smoke like a lit cigar. Some of them are actually paying attention in class, not understanding how big and historical this is. The rest, like me, are sitting at our desks worrying about our families.

“There is the other one,” someone yells, while pointing out the window. His pointing finger freezes in mid-air while his arm slowly shifts from left to right. He is following the plane like a sniper following a target. The class is in complete shock and very quiet, just watching.

At 9:03 a.m., I am watching a Boeing 767 hit tower two in front of my eyes. I am 12-years-old and my eyes are completely dry and focused, but at least ten other pairs of eyes are tearing. My classmates begin to panic. They feel like running out of the classroom, but Mullane is blocking the classroom door so no one can leave class. Safety is a teacher’s responsibility so it’s understandable.

“Attention!” says a familiar voice over the loudspeaker, “We are under attack but we need to remain calm.”

The voice is Michael Ventolo, my principal and a very happy person, but in his tone, I know this is too serious to think of him as a happy person behind the microphone. Fear and worry have just thickened the air. I can smell it.

“Grovert Fuentes” says Mullane, “Your mother is downstairs. Pack your books, you can go home.” I am relieved to know that my mother is well and I can go home with my mother and little brothers. One of my brothers is five and in kindergarten, in the same school as me. My two-year-old brother is at home with the babysitter.

The look my mother has on her face, I have never seen before. She is a brave woman with lots of courage. Her face reassures me that this is a serious situation.

On the ride home, my mother is telling me how worried she is about my father. She can’t get in touch with him. She’s taking red lights and breaking the speed limit. We arrive home and continue calling my father, but no answer. The cell phone towers are down and we can’t get through. The calls that can get through are giving us the busy tone.

For the next few hours, my mother and I are glued to the television, waiting to hear details. At 9:37 a.m., we find out that the Pentagon is also hit. We do not know what to do, nor what to expect, but we do know that the president is about to come on TV and make a speech.

“Today we’ve had a national tragedy,” says the President of the United States, George W. Bush. “Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.”

Finally, around 11 a.m., my father calls to tell us he is safe, and has just exited the Lincoln Tunnel, but is stuck in New York City. He is also telling us that traffic is frozen and many people are abandoning their vehicles to run through the tunnel, to the New Jersey side.

5 p.m. comes around and my father comes home. Our family is united and we are happy to see each other again.

A decade later, I am away from my family again.

I am a combat photographer standing on Afghan soil with plenty of Taliban around me. Some ask me why I volunteered for this deployment. On Feb. 21, 2010, shortly after my return from Iraq, U.S. Army Sgt. Marcos Antonio Gorra died in the line of combat. He was a hometown friend, who died on this same soil I stand on today. He died for freedom and for those towers.

I’ve been exposed to explosives, rockets, and gunfire, yet, I’m still glad to be where I am now; I’m defending what I saw 10 years ago and trying to keep the fight on their soil instead of ours.

Many ask me my reason for joining and I say, “My biggest reason is because of 9/11. It is a day that I will never forget.”

Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Grovert Fuentes-Contreras, a combat photographer assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, stands on top of Alexander’s Castle in Qalat City, Afghanistan, July 17, 2011. (Courtesy photo)