November is Month of the Military Family and is designated as a time to acknowledge the service and sacrifices made by military members and their families.
For Airmen 1st Class Alex Waters and Melissa McCabe, those sacrifices are being made as both service members and military family members.
After moving around the world as a child of an active-duty U.S. Air Force dad, McCabe said she knows well what it is like to pick-up and move where directed. “The military is big in my family, and it is all I have known,” she said. From Korea to Japan, she ended up settling down in Arizona where she met Waters through mutual friends. The two married and became inseparable.
Waters and McCabe enlisted into the Arizona Air National Guard together at the Morris Air National Guard Base recruiting office.
“I don’t have a military family, but we always knew the military is where we wanted to be,” said Waters. “We were just waiting for the right time.”
That time came and the two left for Basic Military Training in November 2021. McCabe set out to become part of the 162nd Wing Medical Group and Waters the Maintenance Group.
As a dual military couple, they not only became part of each other’s military family, but they also began to learn the sacrifices they would face as military family members.
“We joined together as a way of supporting each other because we thought we would struggle, but if we did struggle, at least we would be together,” said McCabe.
As with every service member, initial training was certainly challenging. However, enduring together and sharing their struggles did not exactly turn out how they had planned.
“BMT was not what I expected, I saw my husband and couldn’t speak with him,” said McCabe. “It was torture because I bonded with everyone but could only see my husband in passing.”
The two even found it challenging to speak to one another on the phone because their schedules didn’t align. Despite the sacrifices, the couple successfully completed training and became members of the 162nd Wing family.
They also became part of a unique group in the Air National Guard. According to the 2020 Demographics Profile of the Military Community report published by the Department of Defense, only 10.3 percent of Air National Guard marriages are dual military. This is a smaller demographic than the 20.2 percent of active-duty counterparts. This gives them a different perspective of the military, and of being a part of the military family.
“When a person goes back home, they have to get accustomed to life before the military. But being back home and knowing my husband went through the same things I did, we can vent and share experiences,” said McCabe. “The common experiences help alleviate stressors,” she said.