Unsung heroes

  • Published
  • By Al Strait
  • Director, Wing Plans and Programs
Recently my wife and I celebrated our (??) wedding anniversary (I know if I told the actual number of years, I would not see the 34th anniversary). As we reflected on those years together, I could not help but think of her sacrifices during my many absences. Those sacrifices included acting as a single mother, taxi driver, tutor, practicing nurse, financial advisor...the list goes on. These sacrifices and many other sacrifices are typical of all military spouses.

Upon further reflection, I thought of the many families who in the past had deployed husbands or wives in support of the military mission. In some cases, the father or mother was left to care for the children while still holding down a civilian job or being assigned to the military.

Being deployed is not the only challenge for spouses. The daily rigors of our first responders, combat crew members, executive officers or other special career fields all take a toll on the family. Regardless of the situation, all are faced with unique challenges. How do they do it? Some try to do it by themselves; others rely on family members, co-workers or their spiritual support system. Others use a combination of all.

Some spouses also rely on the many military programs which are available to them for support. The monthly Deployed Family Dinners are a great opportunity for spouses to take a break and socialize with other spouses whose family member may be deployed (dinners are typically held the first Friday of the month and spouses can get details through their unit first sergeants - the next one is March 1 at the chapel). Other avenues for support are though the unit Key Spouse Network. Key spouses are volunteers, assigned by the unit commander, who serve as the link between unit leadership and the family members. Key spouses offer informal peer-to-peer wingman support to families. They help build strong military communities and establish continuous contact with military family members. Key spouses are vital to supporting our Comprehensive Airman Fitness culture by assisting families to become more resilient and better equipped with the rigors of military life.

The Airman and Family Readiness Center also hosts a group of programs to support spouses ranging from PLAYpass, discounted programs through the 21st Force Support Squadron, Heartlink classes for brand new military spouses and Bundles for Babies workshops for those families expecting a child.

I would challenge all spouses and military members to take advantage of the many programs available to them. There is no need to stand alone and take on the extra burdens by yourselves.

Military spouses are special, they are resilient and they know what needs to be done. Some may complain, some may whine, but for the most part they simply take care of business.

So to all the military spouses, both young and old, both on active duty and retired, both male and female, thank you for all you do in supporting the call of freedom. Also, to my wife, my confidant and my best friend: thank you for your support to me and our family - I look forward to celebrating many more years together. You and all spouses are unsung heroes who deserve the praise and gratitude of our nation.