Over the past week, in recognition of Year of the Air Force Family, we’ve been bringing you a number of different perspectives about military life and how it relates to our active duty Airmen and their families. Today’s post comes to us from SMSgt. Rex Temple, who writes a blog called Afghanistan: My Last Tour. SMSgt Temple has been writing about his missions and deployed life via his blog and on Twitter (follow @afghanistanlast). In his post below, he talks about how much the Air Force Family has meant to him and his wife.
While I am on the other side of the world embedded with the Afghan National Army and trying to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, on the other side of the world is a special person who faces different challenges and performs a daily juggling act. This person is none other than my loving wife. Prior to us meeting, she was an Emmy award-winning journalist who often produced stories about military families and the stressors of deployment. At that time, she really didn’t understand the concept of the military family but she would air the warm-hearted stories anyhow. Now that we are married, I have introduced her to my Air Force family and with my yearlong deployment she is experiencing first-hand what she couldn’t truly appreciate when she first interviewed those resilient military spouses and children.
Overnight, she became the accountant, the cook, the mechanic, the house cleaner, the handyman and the caregiver to our furry children Charlie and Sammy. Prior to this deployment we shared these responsibilities, but now she has to perform a circus act and balance this with a fulltime job too. Often the news media or I will depict in my blog www.Afghanistanmylasttour.com the sacrifices military members make while being deployed and the luxuries we long to have. But the families we leave behind make tremendous sacrifices too and my wife is no different.
It’s not just deployments, but frequent PCS moves, moving household goods, changing spouse’s jobs, uprooting children and
enrolling them in new schools and shipping family pets can be disruptive to military family’s lives. Fortunately the Air Force recognizes the sacrifices military families make and provides a supporting foundation and a plethora of tools and resources to help lessen the pain. The Airman and Family Readiness Center is like Grand Central Station and provides an array of services beneficial to the Airman and family members. The Fitness Center is a great place to shed some pounds or maintain a healthy physique. The Education Center is invaluable especially since the 9/11 GI Bill has been enacted. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the great savings when we shop at AAFES and commissary facilities. Lastly, my favorite is traveling Space-Available to Alaska, Hawaii or foreign countries and staying at FAM camps and lodges to indulge myself during a vacation. At MacDill AFB, I can even rent a boat and get away from reality while fishing for shark, snapper, and grouper. These are only a handful of resources the Air Force offers to its members and their families.
Despite being in a combat zone in Afghanistan, my spouse is free to enjoy all of the activities I mentioned above without me. My Air Force family has embraced her with both arms. Should something tragic happen to me, I have an inner peace knowing my Air Force family will always be there for my wife.