Show families appreciation now

Chief Master Sgt. John Overturf, 921st Contingency Response Squadron superintendent, encourages all Airmen to show appreciation for their families. (Courtesy Photo)

As much as I hate to admit it, the other night my wife was right. She said I do not appreciate or understand all of the sacrifices our family makes to support my career. She was absolutely right.

All too often, we focus on mission accomplishment and forget about what our families are going through while we are deployed. We may even forget about all the things they have to give up to support us. And when I say families, I don’t just mean spouses. This includes significant others, parents, siblings, children, close friends and relatives. We all have someone who worries about us and supports us.  

Being assigned to the 621st Contingency Response Wing [Travis AFB, Calif.], we are trained and ready to deploy in less than 12 hours to anywhere in the world. In October 2018, our group got the call to support Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. I remember this day very clearly. I heard we were going to send out a small team of about 65 personnel later that night.

What do you think the first thing I did was? I called my wife to let her know I was leaving for an undetermined amount of time and asked her to make sure I had clean clothes ready when I got home so I could pack. Not once did she complain about me leaving, the plans we were going to have to cancel or the suddenness of her being a single parent. When I got home, my daughter, who was 5 at the time, gave me a big hug, kiss, put her brave face on and said she understood daddy had to leave because I was going to help the people of Florida who needed me more than she did.

We ask so much from our families and sometimes we don’t even realize it. We ask them to follow us around the world, give up their careers, change schools, leave friends and family behind, and as much as we don’t want them to, worry about us while we are deployed. And this doesn’t even begin to cover all the “little things” we miss like birthdays, anniversaries, school functions, as well as soccer, football or baseball games.

Don’t wait until a retirement ceremony to get all choked up and thank your family for everything they did to support you. Thank them now.

Our families and friends make so many sacrifices daily to support us and they deserve some recognition and thanks more often. Whatever it is you do to show appreciation, do it today. We cannot accomplish all the great things the Air Force does without the love and support of our families and friends. As much as we may not want to admit it, we cannot be successful without them.