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The Air Force cares about families

  • Published
  • By By Master Sgt. TJ Silva
  • 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron first sergeant defines family as 1. parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not. 2. The children of one person or one couple collectively.  3. The spouse and children of one person.


The Air Force's definition of family is dependent on the topic of discussion.  Whether you are single or married, have kids, parents living or deceased -- you are a vital member of our Air Force family.  The Air Force even has numerous Air Force Instructions to illustrate and guide the importance of our family members.  Furthermore, the Air Force offers numerous programs and facilities that benefit our Airmen, family members, civilian employees, and retirees.


According to the official Web site of the U.S. Air Force, earlier this year Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley designated July 2009 to July 2010 as the "Year of the Air Force Family," a year-long focus on Air Force programs highlighting the importance of, and commitment to, the entire Air Force family: all Airmen, married and single; spouses; children; Air Force civilians; extended families; and retirees. 


"We will devote this year to identifying what we are doing right and what we need to do better to support the entire Air Force family, and to rekindle the sense of community that has been our tradition for so many generations," General Schwartz said.


As mentioned previously, the Air Force has the following AFIs: 36-2908, Family Care Plans; 65-103 Temporary Duty Orders; 36-3020 Family Member Travel; 36-3003, Military Leave Program, to name a few, which make reference to family members. 


A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to be nominated for an award at major command level.  The Air Force did not only pay for my airfare and lodging for a week, but also for my wife's.   


Another example of the Air Force taking care of not only military members but also family members is when one of my Airmen was mauled by a bear while hunting at Kodiak Island.  Upon receiving the news, his wife and mother were put on official orders and flown to Anchorage, Alaska.  Their lodging was also paid for, that is to say nothing of his medical expenses. 


A final example is while deployed to the area of responsibility, if you were to receive a (God forbid) Red Cross message, the Air Force will pay for your trip back to where your family member (ref AFI 36-3003) is located.  In addition, the Air Force will also pay for your trip back to the AOR.


The Air Force offers numerous programs and facilities to benefit our Airmen and families.  For example, most installations offer a fitness facility, a Health and Wellness Center, Outdoor Recreation Center, Youth Centers, Airmen Ministry Centers, Airmen and Family Support Centers, and Spouse's Club, just to name a few.  Some of these programs/facilities offer rental equipment at discounted prices such as snow skiing equipment, camping and fishing equipment, discounted trips and tickets, baseball, basketball and soccer leagues, counseling, resumé writing classes, financial aid and money management classes just to name a few.


Although we all have our immediate families, whether it be husband, wife, mother, father, brother or sister, we also have our Air Force family, whether it be active duty, civilians, or retirees.  We shall continue to support each other and make the Air Force a better organization to be a part of.  General Schwartz said "the strength of the nation's Air Force is not the platforms we operate or the technologies we employ, as good as they are.  It is our Airmen and their families. The Air Force is a great place to work, live, and play. Our intent is to make it even better."