Editor’s note: This commentary was first published Feb. 19, 2015.
As I was reviewing some enlisted performance reports and decorations today, I started contemplating a huge event in my life that occurred almost 20 years ago.
In April of 1995, I asked my then girlfriend Tiffani, a fellow Airman at the time, to be my wife, for better or worse. We were married later that year, and along our journey these past 20 years, we have seen many places, been blessed with two wonderful children and made many friends.
What really got me thinking though, were the numerous sacrifices that my wife and two children have made.
Throughout the journey, my kids have been asked to change schools six times, each time giving up old friends to make new ones. Some of those transitions were easy, but some have been difficult. The resiliency they have shown each time though, inspires me. In some instances, they have actually been the ones itching to move, long before I ever was. My wife has been asked to give up two different jobs along the way as well, not really ever getting the opportunity to start a career. Additionally, my family has had to deal with me missing many birthdays, anniversaries, etc., due to my temporary duties and deployments.
We, as service members, raise our right hand and solemnly swear to defend the United States, against all enemies foreign and domestic. We signed on the dotted line vowing to give our lives in its defense, if needed, but nowhere on that contract does it say that our families should do the same.
Whether you have a wife, husband, partner, children or simply family back in your hometown, we all have someone, somewhere along the journey with us that didn’t sign that contract. They endure the difficulties, the uncertainties of deployments and the joy of reuniting with one another after those separations.
My family has sacrificed so much over these years to allow me to do what I love, which is taking care of our Airmen. I cannot say “Thank you” enough or rewind time to make up for those missed birthdays and anniversaries. I don’t think any of us would change a thing, but I simply wanted to let them know how much they are loved and appreciated and that I understand the sacrifices they have made.
Two things I ask: First, don’t ever underestimate how much the support and sacrifice of our families means to our success. Second, please ensure you go home tonight and thank those you love, give them a call if they are not with you, or give them a big hug if they are.
I can think of no greater thing than serving in the world’s greatest Air Force alongside the world’s greatest Airmen, but without my family and their support and sacrifices, none of it would have been possible. We all look forward to seeing where the journey continues to take us.