Tag Archives: family

Google Hangout with the CSAF

By Senior Airman Michelle Patten
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Did you know the Air Force has a Google+ page? Our first venture on this exciting new platform is a Google Hangout with Chief of Staff of the Air Force Mark A. Welsh III and his wife Betty.

If you’ve never experienced a Google Hangout before, this is your chance! Tune in Jan. 16 as Airmen and Air Force family members from across the world join Gen. Welsh and Mrs. Welsh for a discussion about today’s Air Force. We’ll see you next Friday, and keep checking back to our Google+ page “United States Air Force” for new exciting content.

CSAF and his spouse visit with Airmen during a visit to the Central Command AOR
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Betty Welsh, CSAF spouse, pose with Airmen during a visit to the Central Command area of responsibility. (Courtesy photo)

How will you earn your wings this holiday season?

By Maj. Gen. Theresa Carter
Commander, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (Provisional)

Like many of you, one of the things I enjoy doing every year during this season is watching the classic holiday movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Many of us probably know the film by heart at this point in our lives. But for those who have not seen it, here’s a brief synopsis. The film is about an angel named Clarence who is trying to earn his wings and a man named George who plans to end his life by jumping off a bridge into icy water. The men cross paths when Clarence jumps into the water before George, to take George’s mind off his taking his life.

Clarence’s actions ended up taking George’s attention away from his attempted suicide and instead had him focus on saving this old man (angel) who was now wildly flapping his arms trying to stay above water.

George was ready to end his life because he was convinced things would be better if he had never been born, but — in fact — things would have been much worse. He wouldn’t have been there to save his brother from drowning, to help his neighbors secure desperately needed home loans or to provide a helping hand to his family.

George finally realized he made an impact every day in the lives of his family, friends and co-workers and pleaded with Clarence to let him live again. Clarence granted his wish and earned his wings by showing George how important his contributions were to the lives of others.

I never fail to take away a new insight or meaning from the film each time I watch it. I often wonder how many of us appreciate the impact we have every day on our fellow service members, civilian employees, family and friends. Whenever I have the chance to talk with students at Airman Leadership School, I always discuss the important role first-level supervisors play in the lives of the Airmen who work for them. Time and again in climate surveys, the one thing our Airmen say they value most is a simple thank you or a pat on the back from their immediate supervisor. When was the last time you thanked one of your subordinates at the end of the day for their efforts? Have you ever told them how important they are or how they contribute to successful mission accomplishment?

As we prepare to celebrate another holiday season and ring in a new year, stop and think about an average day at any military installation. Maintainers are preparing aircraft to fly. Aircrews are flying combat and training sorties. Combat support personnel are providing the infrastructure and services needed to support our service members where they live, work and play. Medical personnel are caring for our most precious resource – our service members, family members and retirees. Instructors are mentoring and training our future leaders. It’s not easy to keep all of these parts moving smoothly — every single person plays a key role and is essential to success.

Whether you are a supervisor or subordinate, recognize and understand the powerful influence your words and actions can have on those around you. I know personally of several individuals who decided to re-enlist rather than separate and, in the extreme, to live rather than to die simply because someone on that decisive day said, “Thanks, you’ve done well and we appreciate what you do for the unit.”

So during this busy holiday season, let’s take time to remember those who are deployed by sending a letter or email and checking in on their family. Let’s take time to visit those who must work over the holidays, standing watch at entry control point, operating control centers or caring for the sick and injured at our military hospitals. Let’s all remember to celebrate responsibly over the holidays by using designated drivers and employing personal risk management as we deck the halls and hang holiday decorations around the house. And finally, let’s take time to say thanks to the dedicated Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who keep our country safe each and every day. Let them know how important their contributions are to keeping our nation free. Let them know they make a difference every day. You never know…like Clarence, it just may help you earn your wings.

How will you earn your wings this holiday season?

Photo courtesy Picjumbo

Holiday wish list

By Senior Airman Michelle Patten
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Whether your Airman is stationed stateside or deployed to a remote location, the holidays are a special time of year. For many Airmen, the gift they really wish for is to spend time with family and friends. If this isn’t possible, or if you just want to make the holidays extra special, here are some ideas about what may be on your Airman’s holiday wish list.

Continue reading Holiday wish list

Continuing the Tradition of “Airmen helping Airmen”

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By Beatriz Swann (CMSgt, Ret)
Air Force Aid Society

I joined the U.S. Air Force in 1979 at the young age of 18. I knew the Air Force would offer opportunities that I would otherwise not have if I stayed in my hometown. What I thought would be a short stay in the military ended up being 33 years of service. I retired as a chief master sergeant in 2012 and began my second career as Emergency Assistance Caseworker with the Air Force Aid Society, supporting Airmen and their families every day.

As a young airman, I knew about the Air Force Aid Society. It came up each year during the Air Force Assistance Fund campaign – I understood AFAS was where to go if you had an emergency financial situation – but that’s really all I knew. Later on, in my supervisory positions, I encouraged my Airmen to use AFAS if they needed it but still did not know the full scope of what AFAS was all about. Continue reading Continuing the Tradition of “Airmen helping Airmen”

Murphy’s Law while your spouse is TDY

By Jenna Stone
Air Force spouse

blog2 copyMurphy’s law states that “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” For military spouses, that sometimes means “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong while your spouse is TDY.” Why does it seem like things wait until my husband is on a flight to go awry?

My husband is a firefighter with the San Antonio Fire Department, but he’s also an Air Force Reserve C-5 loadmaster at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. His position doesn’t deploy for months at a time, and I am very thankful for that. He does, however, go on temporary duty assignments from two to 10 days once or twice a month. These frequent TDYs seem to be when things around the house break and everyone gets sick.

His longest TDY was three weeks when he attended Survival, Evasion, Resistence and Escape, or SERE, training in Washington State. He left in May right when the school year was wrapping up. I work as a third grade teacher, and May can be one of the busiest times of the entire school year. There are so many things that need to get done before summer vacation can start, so this was a terrible time for him to leave.

About a week into his training, everything was going great. I was busy with things at school, taking care of our two young boys and keeping up with housework. It was then that I decided to tackle the yard work. I am a little ashamed to admit that, until this time, I had never mowed the lawn. I grew up in a house full of hardworking boys who took care of the lawn while I did chores inside of the house. Usually I would wait until my husband returned from his TDY, but the grass was beginning to resemble a jungle, so it had to be done.

I tried to start the mower, but nothing happened. I pulled the cord over and over, and still nothing. This should have been my clue to abandon the yard work, but I was determined to prove that I could take care of EVERYTHING while my husband was away. So, I walked to a neighbor’s house and asked him for a little help. He retired from the military, so he understood my plight. After a little mechanical magic, the mower started up and I got down to business.

I started at the edge of the lawn and pushed forward. It seemed really tough to push, but I powered through it. At the end of my first pass, I looked back to admire my work. To my dismay, I saw a big brown stripe right down the edge of my beautiful green lawn. The mower was on the lowest setting, and I had cut the grass too short nearly killing it. I stopped right away and asked my neighbor on the other side of the house for help. He chuckled a little at my brown stripe, but he helped me set the mower properly so I could finishin mowing the lawn.

The next night, I was outside chatting with some other neighbors when all of a sudden, water began spewing out of my lawn just like Old Faithful. I had no idea what to do! Luckily, my neighbors went over to the sprinkler system and shut it off. They dug down in the lawn a little to reveal a broken sprinkler line right by my brown stripe of grass. I have no idea how to fix a sprinkler system, so this problem was going to have to wait until my husband returned from his TDY.

A few days later, we had some high winds that were strong enough to break the ties anchoring my freshly planted tree in place. It had blown over and was nearly laying down on the lawn. I used some rope that I found in the garage to tie it upright again, but it didn’t quite work. My brother-in-law had to come over and fix it for me. Geez! The lawn and I do not get along!

The next thing to break in the house during his TDY was the front door. Somehow the weather stripping tore completely off of the bottom of the door leaving a gap for light and air to enter the house. I don’t know the first thing about weather stripping, so that would have to wait too. It wasn’t a huge deal, but just another annoyance that would have usually been taking care of by my husband.

While all of those things were very frustrating, they weren’t the worst thing that happened during my husband’s TDY. Our oldest son, Dylan, became extremely sick. He began vomiting, and he had a fever that over-the-counter medicines could not break. His fever would spike up during the night, getting as high as 104.5 degrees. He experienced a febrile seizure when he was young, so I would lay awake with him and watch him like a hawk. I didn’t sleep for days. The doctor drew blood, and it turned out to be a bacterial infection so they treated him with antibiotics. The first round of antibiotics didn’t work, and his high fever continued for several more days. After receiving a stronger antibiotic, he finally began to get better. During this seven-day fever, my mother-in-law came into town and helped me care for my younger son.

I’m not sure how I was able to close out the school year at work during these busy and frustrating three weeks, but somehow everything came together. I found extra minutes to grade papers during bath time and standing at the kitchen counter while making dinner. I finished up my end-of-year paperwork while the kids were enjoying a play date at a neighbor’s house. Another nice neighbor even cooked for the boys and me so I could get extra schoolwork finished.

There are a few things that I learned from this three-week TDY:

  1. Lawn work is not for me.
  2. I should probably learn more about the sprinkler system, and other things around the house so I know what to do when things break.
  3. I could not have gotten through this without the help of neighbors and family.

It’s so important to have a network of trusted friends and family to come to the rescue when things go wrong. Usually military spouses don’t have family in town so they are reliant on the neighbors around them. Get to know the people down the street. I have found that the best way to do this is to play with your kids out in the front yard. You will naturally run into the people living around you. It is an extra bonus when they have kids that your children can play with. Set up play dates and trade babysitting one another’s children. Be friendly and help out whenever you can. Your neighbors will return the favor if you need help.

Facebook can be an amazing tool when it comes to setting up a network of trusted neighbors. The women on my street have started a Facebook group for all of the wives in the neighborhood. It’s a great way to share information and make plans to get together. The extended “family” that I have down the street keeps me sane during those crazy TDYs.

PHOTO: (From left to right) Carter, Brian, Jenna and Dylan Stone pose for a photo during Dylan’s birthday party in Cibolo, Texas,  in November 2013.  (Courtesy photo)