Tag Archives: Year of the Air Force Family

Year of the Air Force Family moves forward

In two separate bloggers roundtables last week, two Air Force leaders, Lt. Gen. Richard Newton III and Chief  Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy, touched upon some important topics that Airmen and families might be thinking about. The Year of the Air Force Family is over, but the lessons learned from it are being used to help Airmen and their families. Also, many things are in store for Airmen in the future, such as joint force training and an increased sense of community. �

General Newton pointed out that single Airmen need attention in addition to Airmen with families. The first Single Airmen’s Summit was held last year, in which issues, such as finances and suicide prevention, were discussed.  

Chief Roy discussed a little nugget of news that many people might be happy to hear. Airmen who do an excellent job on their physical training will only need to test once per year, Chief Roy said.  

To read/listen more about the bloggers roundtable for Chief Roy click here.  To read/listen more about the bloggers roundtable for Lt. Gen. Newton click here

PHOTO: Master Sgt. Rodolfo Gamez and his wife, Tech. Sgt. Christina Gamez, hold their children, Tomas, 4, and Eva, 3, for a portrait outside of their home. The Gamezes are set to deploy to two different locations for year-long deployments later this year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Year of the Air Force Family–Deployed perspective

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.

SMSgt Rex Temple. Source: http://afghanistanmylasttour.com/
SMSgt Rex Temple. Source: http://afghanistanmylasttour.com/

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

SMSGt Temple and wife Liisa. Source: http://afghanistanmylasttour.com/
SMSGt Temple and wife Liisa. Source: http://afghanistanmylasttour.com/

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.

Celebrating the Air Force Family

Year of the Air Force Family Week wrapped up last week, but the Year of the Air Force Family events will be ongoing until summer of 2010. To further recognize the Air Force family we’ve got a couple of additional posts to present this week.

Here is a link to a blog post from Robin Paoli, a.k.a. one of the people who runs @MilitaryTweets on Twitter. Robin has been a big supporter of the military branches and has taken a lot of time to talk to people involved in the military and other branches of the government. She is helping spread the word and provide details about the work that people are doing to share their story, particularly with social media.

A child’s first steps caught on camera for a deployed parent, a son in Afghanistan making a comic video poking gentle fun at his father’s birthday, a dad in Iraq telling his son “I love you”… we’ve been privileged to share these special moments and many more while helping manage the TroopTube video web site.

In the blog post Robin talks to Capt. Chris Sukach, Chief of Emerging Technology for the Air Force Public Affairs Agency about the importance of connecting families and how new media tools are helping enable that goal. So while you’re thinking of our service members, both deployed and on the home front, remember the families as well and think about the sacrifices they’ve made.

Thoughts on Year of the Air Force Family from Air Force Wife

spousebuzzAs you’ve been reading here on Air Force Live, this week is Year of the Air Force Family Week. We asked some other folks from the blogosphere to contribute their thoughts on what it means to be part of the Air Force Family. Today we have a post to share from Ruthie, a.k.a. Air Force Wife, on SpouseBUZZ. If you’re not familiar with SpouseBUZZ, it is a blog site that is written by spouses of members of all branches of the military. Full description: “SpouseBUZZ is a virtual Spouse Support Group, a place where you can instantly connect with thousands of other milspouses. Here, we celebrate and embrace the tie that binds us all – military service.”

Below is an excerpt from Air Force Wife. Please click here for the full story. And check out SpouseBUZZ if you want to hear from and interact with people who share the same experiences as you.

One thing I can tell you right off the bat is that when Air Force Guy left the Army to join the Air Force long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I thought I was headed for an era of peaches and cream and mint juleps on a sun shaded porch.  No more long duties!  No more field exercises that seem to get extended every single time!
In our case, that’s not exactly what happened.

Pentagon Airman: Air Force Family Week

This is Family Week in the Air Force, part of the greater Year of the Air Force Family.

Families are important to the success of the Air Force mission. I know it’s especially true for me when I deployed earlier this year to Iraq and when I deployed to Afghanistan in 2007. Knowing my wife was taking care of the home, paying the mortgage and bills (which she normally does anyway), cutting the grass, and maintaining the cars during my absence was a big relief. Fortunately, we don’t have children so she didn’t have that added responsibility. Many spouses of deployed Airmen do.

In some ways, I felt guilty when I deployed. I believe deploying was harder for my wife, Lisa, than for me. She had to do everything. Setting aside the fact I was in a war zone, I only had to worry about work or try to anticipate the next time the “D-FAC” (dining facility) was going to have tacos or chocolate pudding. The other facets of life back home were … well, back home. They were thousands of miles from where I was … waiting for Lisa to do them.

For Airmen with families, this is a great time to thank family members for the sacrifices they make to support our careers. Thank you, Lisa.

Military Family of the Year

The Air Force’s military family of the year – the Ojala family from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. – was in Washington recently to attend the National Military Family Association’s Military Family of the Year ceremony.

Deployments have been a part of Ojala life. Since 9/11, Tech. Sgt. Thane Ojala has undergone six deployments. They speak from experience about coping with deployments. “Know your resources, such as key spouses,” said Master Sgt. Wayne Ojala, the superintendent of the Nellis’ Airman and Family Readiness Center.

“And take advantage of them,” added Tech. Sgt. Thane Ojala, a 99th Force Support Squadron food service accountant. “There are so many programs in place. You’re never in it alone.”

Even the Ojala children have advice for families when coping with deployments.

Don’t give up by looking at the negative, said 17-year-old Jari. “Look at the positive. Try new things.”

Katherine, 14, said writing has helped her cope with deployments. She added deployments do get easier.

Kalie, 13, said, “There are other families whose parents are gone. You’re never alone.”

Master Sergeant Ojala said if there was one word to describe his family it would be “resilient.”

“All of the kids have done a great job with deployments,” he said. He credited the children with helping him keep the household running and maintaining good spirits while his wife was deployed. The senior NCO said programs for deployed families at the Nellis AFRC helps him through the frequent separations from his wife. It’s also a way for the family to cope.

“Jari drags us to the gym pretty regularly,” Master Sergeant Ojala said. “It motivates me.”

(Pentagon Airman is written by Master Sgt. Russell P. Petcoff, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs.)