A first sergeant and a father: Master Sgt. Thomas Hallanger tells his story

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cody Friend
  • Space Base Delta 1 Public Affairs

Nearly 17 years ago, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Thomas Hallanger became a father when his first daughter Haley was born at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. 

Thomas and his wife Jimena got married in 2006 and shortly afterwards discovered they were expecting their first child. 

“We weren’t really planning on having kids right away,” Hallanger said. “But honestly, I wouldn’t change a whole lot of things. Haley is absolutely wonderful.” 

It was three years later, after Hallanger and his family moved to Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, that their second daughter Emma was born. Today, Hallanger serves as the 50th Security Forces Squadron’s first sergeant at Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado. Hallanger directly cares for over 200 personnel, but he says that his duties go beyond just his squadron. 

“I don’t stop helping people just because they don’t have the same patch on their arm as me,” Hallanger said. “If it’s a Guardian or someone else, there are no limitations to how far we’ll go and help.” 

Hallanger found his calling to become a first sergeant in the early days of his career. As an airman stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, Hallanger struggled with the loss of his grandfather and his first sergeant at the time made sure he was taken care of. 

“I didn’t even think he knew my name, but he came up and had a talk with me,” Hallanger said. “He talked to me not because he had to but because I felt he wanted to. It really touched my soul that somebody really cares, and I thought that is somebody that I would love to be one day.” 

Hallanger says that the guidance he provides to his children as a father mirrors the mentoring and advising he provides as a first sergeant. Hallanger looks at the people he supports everyday as an extension of himself and his family.  

As a father and a husband, sometimes Hallanger’s responsibilities overlap which creates stress for him and his family. Hallanger says that Father’s Day is bittersweet as he has missed many Father’s Days and other holidays due to his responsibilities. He says that it is important to set boundaries and make time for your family. 

“The older I get and the wiser I get, the more I appreciate how important my family is to me,” Hallanger said. “It’s about trying to not only define boundaries but maintain those boundaries as well. To ensure that when I’m with my family I can be a dad, be a husband and then also be a first sergeant when needed but knowing when to wear each hat. It’s next to impossible at times but I try my best.” 

Hallanger says that the key to balancing responsibilities is communication and taking care of yourself. Either through talking with family and friends or seeking help from a mental health professional. 

“I saw at the front gate that it said it’s Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month, going to mental health that’s part of it,” Hallanger said. “Going over issues and challenges I’m experiencing, I’m not only a proponent of it but I’m also a client. It’s helping yourself to be the best person you possibly can be.” 

Hallanger says his over 21 years of military service have gone by in the blink of an eye and it’s important to take time to appreciate where you are in life.  

“Use the time that you have,” Hallanger said. “If it’s reconnecting with your own father, use Father’s Day as a means to live your life and not have any regrets moving forward.”