USAF "Year of the Family" - How's Yours?

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- This week we are kicking off our programs in support of the USAF "Year of the Family" campaign, and I'm excited about the depth and breadth of our activities planned throughout the year.

Most of these will be familiar...because here at Arnold, EVERY year is the "year of the family!"

While our mission is often first and foremost on our minds, we cannot get so focused that we neglect the most important part of our lives...our families.

Surely military service involves sacrifices, and often we are called upon to "sacrifice" family time to accomplish the mission, both here and at deployed locations. But these sacrifices amplify the importance of re-focusing our efforts when the mission allows.

In declaring the "Year of the Family" the CSAF is acknowledging that years of continuous deployments, downsizing, budget cuts, and a host of other challenges are driving us away from our families, and we can't let that happen.

It's not just a recruiting slogan (recruit an Airman, retain a family) it's a moral imperative. Staying connected takes constant attention, for both your immediate family and your extended family around the globe.

Why is this so important? Easy. You just can't know when fate will put your family on the front burner.

For me, twice in my career I've received "the call" from the Red Cross ...both Mom and Dad, gone forever with no notice. That's a bad time to think "Gee, I wish I would have called Mom this weekend..."

The same holds true for your immediate family. It's just so easy to get "disconnected" with them and not even know it. This is our wake-up call to re-think how we balance our lives, how we spend our time, and how we can enrich each other's lives with uniquely military events.

I encourage all of you to lay out a plan for the year, pop in on some of our events, and make this your personal "Year of MY Family."

A former Chaplain I knew had this down ... "I never visited a patient in the hospital that said 'I wish I would have spent more time at the office.'"

While the citizens we have volunteered to protect have a little more flexibility in how they balance work and family, no other "company" goes to the lengths we do to help you make this work, and your participation in this year's events will make a big difference. If there's something missing in our efforts, please let us know.

It's our aim to make this the best year ever!